Heifer study sheds light on dry matter intakes
Predicting the dry matter intake of dairy heifers is an important part of heifer nutrition programs, but it can be challenging to estimate for a number of reasons.
Recently, University of Wisconsin researchers collected more than 9,000 heifer-pen dry matter intakes. The data, collected at the Integrated Dairy Research Facility at the University of Wisconsin, shed new light on the dry matter intakes of heifers under commercial-rearing conditions.
The study involved Holstein and Holstein x Jersey crossbred heifers. The researchers present their findings in a new publication, “Estimating Dry Matter Intake of Dairy Heifers.”
Two notable findings from the study include:
Heifer dry matter intake as a percent of body weight decreases as body weight increases, but the relationship is not a straight line. The researchers illustrate this finding in this two-page publication. They also provide an equation that can be used to estimate the dry matter intake of dairy heifers as a percent of body weight.
Dry matter intake is influenced by dietary fiber. During the study, dairy heifers consumed a near-constant 1.0 percent of their body weight as neutral detergent fiber. This finding is important, say the researchers, because heifers consuming low-NDF diets (e.g., corn silage) will eat more feed than heifers consuming high-NDF diets like straw and mature forages.
The publication was authored by Patrick Hoffman and Kimberly Kester of the UW-Madison Department of Dairy Science. For more information, read Estimating Dry Matter Intake of Dairy Heifers at http://www.uwex.edu/ces/heifermgmt/documents/EstimatingDryMatterIntakeofDairyHeifers.pdf.