The objectives of this study were to determine the necessary feed bunk length per heifer and to assess the feeding behavior of heifers fed from bunks of varying sizes. Heifers in three age categories were used for three 16-wk experiments. In Experiment 1, feed bunk lengths per heifer were 15 or 31 cm, and, in Experiments 2 and 3, the lengths were 15, 31, or 47 cm per heifer. Heifers were fed a total mixed ration at restricted intakes. Within-group growth analyses showed uniform growth rates for all heifers at all feed bunk lengths. Individual heifer growth within each group did not vary significantly for either length used in Experiment 1. In Experiment 2, heifers fed from a 15-cm bunk had more variation in live weight gain than did heifers fed from 31- or 47-cm bunks. Live weight gains of heifers fed from a 31-cm bunk varied more than those of heifers fed from 15- and 47-cm bunks in Experiment 3. The mean number of eating bouts and meals and the mean meal duration showed differences between the 15-cm feed bunk length and the 31- and 47-cm feed bunk lengths in Experiments 1 and 2. In Experiment 3, this behavior was different across all lengths. Based on growth responses and feeding behavior, heifers that grow rapidly and that are fed a high quality total mixed diet in a free stall or a bedded pack group housing system require 15-, 31-, and 47-cm feed bunk lengths at 4 to 8, 11.5 to 15.5, and 17 to 21 mo of age, respectively.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology