Interpretive Summary: Large variability in feeding behavior among crossbred growing cattle
By: Anne Wallace
In this July 2020 Journal of Animal Science study, the feeding behaviors of crossbred cattle were studied. An in depth understanding of feeding behaviors is important because it clarifies the reasons behind variations in animal performance. Variables measured in feeding studies may include average feed intake per minute, number of feeding events per day, or the amount of time spent eating. Predictions for breeding programs may then be developed based on the data obtained from such studies and potentially improve performance and optimize productivity.
Determination of correlations between phenotype and performance and efficiency traits and their relationship to the feeding behavior of growing crossbred cattle was a primary goal of this study. Researchers gathered data from a preexisting database obtained from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation. They had access to feeding-related records, liveweights and ultrasound measurements. Fourteen feeding behavior traits, including performance and efficiency traits, traditional feeding behavior traits, meal behavior traits and social dominance rank were evaluated. Feeding behavior traits were also related to variability in metabolizable energy intake (MEI).
Overall, the authors of this study reported large variations in feeding behavior traits and a correlation between phenotypic variation and feeding behaviors in crossbred growing cattle. They found that the most efficient cattle were associated with the following traits: fed for a shorter duration per day, fed less often per day, had slower feeding rate, and fed for a longer period when feeding. The data from this cohort study or other similar studies could potentially be used to develop or optimize breeding programs