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  • Effect of concentrate feeder design on performance, eating and animal behavior, welfare, ruminal health, and carcass quality in Holstein bulls fed high-concentrate diets.

Effect of concentrate feeder design on performance, eating and animal behavior, welfare, ruminal health, and carcass quality in Holstein bulls fed high-concentrate diets.

Journal of animal science (2015-06-27)
M Verdú, A Bach, M Devant
RESUMO

A total of 240 Holstein bulls (121 ± 2.0 kg initial BW; 99 ± 1.0 d of age), from 2 consecutive fattening cycles, were randomly allocated in 1 of 6 pens and assigned to 1 of the 3 treatments consisting of different concentrate feeder designs: a control feeder with 4 feeding spaces (CF), a feeder with less concentrate capacity (CFL), and a single-space feeder with lateral protections (SF). Each pen had a straw feeder and a drinker. All animals were fed a high-concentrate diet for ad libitum intake. Concentrate consumption was recorded daily using a computerized feeder, straw consumption was recorded weekly, and BW was recorded every 14 d. Animal behavior was registered on d 1, 3, 5, 8, and 14 and every 28 d by scan sampling. Eating behavior at concentrate feeders was filmed on d 12, 125, and 206. On d 7, 120, and 204, samples of rumen contents were collected for measurement of pH and VFA and blood samples were obtained to analyze NEFA, haptoglobin, glucose, and insulin. Animals were slaughtered after 223 d, and HCW and lesions of the rumen wall and liver were recorded. The accumulative concentrate consumption per animal tended (P = 0.09) to be greater with CF than with CFL and SF. Also, CV of concentrate consumption was greater (P < 0.01) for SF than for CF or CFL. However, feeder design did not influence the other performance and carcass data. Also, no differences among treatments in rumen wall evaluation and liver abscesses were observed. At 7 and 204 d of study, SF bulls had greater (P < 0.05) rumen pH compared with CF and CFL bulls. On d 7, the acetate to propionate ratio from SF was greater (P < 0.05) than for CFL or CF. At d 7, NEFA of SF were greater (P < 0.05) compared with CF and CFL. Bulls fed with CF have the greatest (P < 0.01) concentrate disappearance velocity followed by bulls fed with CFL and finally by bulls fed with SF, and this was associated with different feeding behaviors. Bulls on SF spent more time (P < 0.05) eating straw and exhibited fewer (P < 0.05) displacements at concentrate feeder than CF and CFL bulls. The CFL bulls exhibited (P < 0.01) more attempted mounts and tended (P = 0.10) to exhibit more completed mounts than CF bulls. In conclusion, both alternative feeder designs (CFL and SF) are good strategies to reduce total concentrate consumption without impairing performance, rumen health, or animal welfare in Holstein bulls fed high-concentrate diets. However, at the beginning, there was evidence that animals fed using SF had problems with adaptation.

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