Effect of limit feeding on the feeding behaviour and growth of dairy heifers

Kitts, Bianca Laura
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University of Guelph

The objective of this study was to examine the behavioural and growth responses of dairy heifers when a low-nutritive feedstuff was provided with a limit-fed ration. Twenty-four Holstein dairy heifers, divided in groups of 4, were exposed to each of 3 treatments in a replicated Latin square design with 28-d periods. The treatments included: limit-fed total mixed ration (TMR) and limit-fed TMR with straw as choice or mixed in. There were no differences in growth with limit feeding versus limit feeding with the provision of straw. However, the provision of straw alongside the limit-fed ration, feeding time was increased, inactive standing and unrewarded feeding time was reduced and rumination behaviour tended to increase, but did reduce feed efficiency. The results suggest that provision of straw, alongside a limit-fed ration, will allow heifer growth rates to be met, as well allow heifers to satisfy their natural feeding behaviour patterns.

behavioural responses, growth responses, dairy heifers, low-nutritive, feedstuff, limit-fed ration, limit-fed total mixed ration, straw