Effect of Breed, Feeding Regime and Weather on Feeding Behavior and Performance of Cattle
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Feedlot cattle are comprised of both beef and dairy breeds. Differences in carcass characteristics, body size, and efficiencies of gain between these breeds have long been noted. One study reported that Holsteins are 13% more efficient than Herefords and another reported that there was a 13% reduction in gain/unit of feed for Holstein over Char steers. Other researchers concluded that the beef progeny of holstein cows required 27% more feed per kg gain than beef progeny.
However, differences in breed feeding behaviours and how these differences might affect production efficiency in the feedlot are not well known. Restricted feeding of feedlot steers is a common practice which can result in increased efficiency of feed conversion but the comparative efficiencies of different breeds on restricted versus ad libitum fed diets has not been closely examined.
Despite the tremendous impact that management can have on animal performance, surprisingly little is known about the feeding patterns of individuals within a pen and how specific factors such as weather, amount of feed presented, frequency of feeding, or time of feeding may affect intake and performance. For example, a large amount of anecdotal evidence suggests that cattle consume large amounts of feed prior to storms, yet little concrete evidence has been gathered to test these claims. Other studies that attempt to correlate weather patterns with eating behaviour show that strong relationships exist at extremes in barometric pressure and ambient air temperatures.