Young dairy heifers fed a total mixed ration of grain concentrate and chopped grass hay sorted their feed less and ate a more balanced diet throughout the day compared to heifers offered concentrate separately from the hay or top-dressed on it, according to a Canadian study in the March 2009 issue of the Journal of Dairy Science.

The study examined the effect of three feeding methods on the feeding behavior of five-month-old heifers. Here are the feeding methods:

  • Grain concentrate and chopped grass hay offered separately.
  • Concentrate placed on top of the hay (top-dressed).
  • Concentrate mixed with the hay in a TMR form.

As you would expect, heifers fed the grain on top of the hay or separate from the hay quickly ate the grain in “very few, large meals,” state the study’s authors from the University of Guelph and the University of British Columbia. Less sorting occurred when the two ration ingredients were offered as a TMR. The TMR also helped the heifers eat smaller, more evenly distributed meals throughout the day.

Until now, there has not been any data on how feeding methods influence the feeding behavior of young weaned heifers.