The effects of age and gender (bull vs steer) on the feeding behavior of young beef cattle fed grass silage

  • Puzio, Natalia (Department of Animal Nutrition and Feed Science, University of Warmia and Mazury) ;
  • Purwin, Cezary (Department of Animal Nutrition and Feed Science, University of Warmia and Mazury) ;
  • Nogalski, Zenon (Department of Cattle Breeding and Milk Evaluation, University of Warmia and Mazury) ;
  • Bialobrzewski, Ireneusz (Department of Systems Engineering, University of Warmia and Mazury) ;
  • Tomczyk, Lukasz (Department of Safety Engineering, University of Warmia and Mazury) ;
  • Michalski, Jacek P. (The Kielanowski Institute of Animal Physiology and Nutrition, Polish Academy of Sciences)
  • Received : 2018.09.12
  • Accepted : 2018.12.15
  • Published : 2019.08.01


Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the effects of age and gender (bull vs steer) on feeding behavior parameters in young beef cattle fed grass silage. Methods: The study was conducted on 180 young beef cattle at 7 to 18 mo of age. The experimental materials comprised 90 bulls produced by commercial crossing of Polish Holstein-Friesian cows with Charolais, Limousin and Hereford bulls (30 animals of each breed) and 90 steers of the same genotypes. The animals had ad libitum access to grass silage; the concentrate was fed separately, in feed stations. They received 28 g dry matter of concentrate per kg of metabolic body weight per day. Bunk visit data and silage intake for all experimental animals were recorded individually using the Roughage Intake Control system (5 feed bunks per 15 animals). Results: Age and gender (bull vs steer) exerted significant effects on the feeding behavior of young beef cattle. The frequency of bunk visits and meal frequency decreased, whereas the feeding rate of silage, and the average duration and size of a single meal increased with age (p<0.01). Bunk attendance and meal frequency were higher (p<0.01) in steers than in bulls (49.1 vs 37.4 visits/d, and 8.63 vs 7.99 meals/d, respectively). Daily feeding time was longer in steers than in bulls (102.3 vs 100.3 min/d, respectively), but the feeding rate of silage was lower in steers, and their meals were smaller in size and shorter in duration (p<0.01). Daily silage dry matter intake was higher (p<0.01) in bulls than in steers (4.62 vs 4.47 kg/d, respectively). Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that age and gender (bull vs steer) exerted significant effects on the feeding behavior of young beef cattle.


Grant : From Fork to Farm

Supported by : European Regional Development Fund


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