If you have considered feeding a TMR ration to your young replacement heifers, recently published research from the University of Guelph may interest you. They compared feeding time, feed sorting, competitive behavior, and fecal scores of heifers that were either fed a TMR or a topdressed ration. Results were published in the April 2010 issue of the Journal of Dairy Science.

Both rations were 65 percent grass/alfalfa haylage and 35 percent textured concentrate (on a dry matter basis). Using time-lapse video, feeding and competitive behavior were collected. The amount of sorting was determined by analyzing the particle size of fresh feed and feed refusals. Lastly, fecal scores were given based on consistency twice weekly.

Heifers fed the topdressed ration tended to consume less NDF and sorted for shorter particles (mostly the concentrate.) In addition, heifers fed the topdressed ration spent more time at the bunk in the two hours after feed delivery and were displaced more frequently than those fed a TMR. Fecal scores were lower for this group, as well. These results suggest feeding a TMR to young replacement heifers may promote a more even diurnal feeding pattern, minimize feed sorting and bunk competition, and promote more solid fecal consistency.

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