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J Anim Sci. 2003 Jan;81(1):109-15.

Large round bale feeder design affects hay utilization and beef cow behavior.

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Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824-1225, USA.


One hundred sixty beef cows (631 +/- 78 kg) were used to evaluate the quantity of hay loss and feeding behaviors from different round bale feeders. Twenty cows were allotted by weight and body condition score to one of eight pens with four feeder designs: cone, ring, trailer, or cradle. All feeder types provided approximately 37 cm of linear feeder space per animal. Alfalfa and orchardgrass round bales were weighed and sampled before feeding. Hay that fell onto the concrete surrounding the feeder was considered waste and was collected and sampled daily. At the end of a 7-d period, each feeder type was assigned to a different pen for a second 7-d period. On four consecutive days in each period, animal behavior was recorded using a time-lapse video system. Data were collected from 5-min observational intervals from the video tapes every 0.5 h each day. Feeder access, occupancy rate, and occurrence of agonistic interactions were recorded. Dry matter hay waste was 3.5, 6.1, 11.4, and 14.6% for the cone, ring, trailer, and cradle feeders, respectively. Calculated dry matter intake of hay ranged from 1.8 to 2.0% of body weight and was not different among feeder type (P < 0.05). Percentage of organic matter, neutral detergent fiber, acid detergent fiber, and crude protein were all lower and acid detergent lignin was higher in the recovered waste compared to the hay fed (P < 0.05). Cows feeding from the cradle feeder had nearly three times the agonistic interactions and four times the frequency of entrances compared to cows feeding from the other feeder types (P < 0.05). Feed losses were positively correlated with agonistic interactions, frequency of regular and irregular entrances, and feeder occupancy rate (P < 0.05). Agonistic interactions by cows and frequency of feeder entrances differed among feeders and were correlated to feeder design induced feed losses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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