You know that too much competition impacts how heifers eat.

A new study of Holstein heifers at the University of Guelph, published in the August Journal of Dairy Science, offers a few explanations of what happens during competition. The researchers fed 36 heifers that were approximately eight months old in either individual or competitive eating situations. They found that while there was no difference in sorting behavior or dry matter intake between the treatments, the competition for feed among growing dairy heifers alters feeding patterns, reduces access to feed — particularly during periods of peak feeding activity — and tends to increase day-to-day variation in feeding behavior.

For example, the competitively fed heifers consumed 9 percent fewer meals per day, but those meals were 10 percent longer than heifers in a non-competitive situation. Therefore, it is important to make sure there is plenty of feed available if heifers are forced to compete for feed.