Regional Research Project NC-2042 has a main objective to study calf and heifer nutrition. Within this objective, feeding the postweaned heifer is considered a major priority to improve the profitability and sustainability of US dairy farms. Through optimizing nutrient utilization by precision feeding, using alternative feeds, high-fiber diets, and feed additives, this research group has worked to enhance dairy heifer nutrition. Research has focused on precision feeding heifers and incorporating high- and low-fiber diets into this system of feeding. This is accomplished by meeting the nutrient needs of the heifer for a desired rate of growth while enhancing total-tract nutrient digestibility, reducing waste and improving profitability. High-fiber forages have been studied as a means of controlling ad libitum dry matter intakes and thus weight gain in heifers. These results provide producers with a means of feeding heifers while reducing costs. Similarly, utilizing alternative feedstuffs in heifer diets has also been a major research area for this group including comprehensive research on distillers co-products, and new protein sources such as camelina and carinata meals. Results indicated that these products can be satisfactorily incorporated into heifer diets. Studying feed additives has also been a function of the research group. Research with Ascophyllum nodosum and cinnamaldehyde indicated that calves find these additives unpalatable and that supplementing cinnamaldehyde to postweaned heifers showed no benefit. However, sodium butyrate and yeast supplementation proved to be beneficial in the growth and feed efficiency of heifers. Research from this group has an effect on heifer feeding, resulting in new information that can aid in the sustainability of dairy farms. This review will focus on the area of postweaned heifer nutrition.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology