Consequences of inconsistent feed availability

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Inconsistent feed availability is a common problem on dairy farms.

Differences in the amount of feed left at the feed bunk bring to mind questions such as: How long have portions of the bunk been empty? Does it affect some cows more than others? How does it affect feed intake and milk yield?

Rick Grant, president of the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy, N.Y., examines the subject of inconsistency at the feed bunk in the March 2013 issue of the Miner Farm Report.

He summarizes recent research results that show the impact of variable diet quality at the feed bunk on the feeding behavior of dairy heifers.

The study found that non-uniform feed quality increased competition at the bunk which reflected the heifer’s desire to access higher quality feed.

"Diet quality at the feed bunk may vary over time of the day and along the length of the bunk depending on the farm’s management level. This variation has important effects on cattle feeding behavior and how successfully they will be able to optimize consumption of a well-formulated diet," Grant says.

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