This study compared ad-libitum versus precision-fed diets with 2 forages and different levels of neutral detergent fibre (NDF) to evaluate rumen fermentation, diet digestibility, feed efficiency, and digesta passage rate. Eight Holstein heifers (18.4 ± 0.6 mo) fitted with rumen cannulas were used in a 2-factor, split-plot, Latin square design. The whole-plot factor was feeding system with ad-libitum or precision feeding and 4 heifers in each plot. The subplot included 2 factors: forage quality and NDF content. Diets were formulated to provide the same energy level (0.234 Mcal of ME intake/kg of empty body weight0.75for precision-fed heifers and 110% of previous intake for ad-libitum-fed heifers. Forage quality and NDF level affected dry matter intake. Mean rumen pH was lower for ad-libitum than for precision-fed diets and volatile fatty acid concentrations were affected principally by forage quality. Adlibitum diets showed faster rate of passage for solid feeds and fluids, increased rate of digestion, and shorter retention time in the rumen. In addition, both high NDF and low quality forage modified rumen passage rate and shortened retention time. Feed efficiency was improved in precision-fed heifers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology