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Effects of the forage-to-concentrate ratio of the diet on feeding behaviour in young Blond d’Aquitaine bulls

Abstract : The activities of bulls, their feeding behaviour and their ruminal pH were examined at several stages during the finishing period, according to the forage-to-concentrate ratio of their diet. Twenty-four bulls of the Blond d’Aquitaine breed (initial body weight = 326 ± 21 kg) were assigned to six balanced pens with a space allowance of 9.4 m2 per bull during the finishing period. They were fed three different diets with achieved forage-to-concentrate ratios of (i) 8% straw and 92% concentrate, (ii) 44% hay and 56% concentrate and (iii) 57% maize silage and 43% concentrate. Bulls had ad libitum access to feed dispensed once daily. Offered and refusals were weighed on 5 consecutive days per week. The bulls were slaughtered at the common final live weight of 650 kg and the finishing period lasted 138, 181 and 155 days for straw–concentrate, hay–concentrate and maize silage–concentrate diets, respectively. The time budget was estimated four times by scan sampling with a 10-min interval. Feeding behaviour was appraised using data from electronic feeding gates. Ruminal pH was measured from a ruminal fluid sample collected by rumenocentesis. On average, the bulls spent 78% of the time lying or standing still, and 11% of the time eating. The forage-to-concentrate ratio of the diet influenced only those activities directly linked to feeding, i.e. eating and drinking. Bulls fed a high-concentrate diet spent less time eating than the other bulls (47 min v. >2 h) and took shorter meals (7 min v. 17 min). The bulls fed the straw–concentrate diet spread their meals over the entire day, whereas the others maintained two major peaks of eating activity, the main one in the morning after feed dispensing, the other one at the end of the diurnal period. Intake rate ranged widely between diets, from 58 g/min on average for the diets based on hay or maize silage up to 173 g/min for the high-concentrate diet. The concentrate-diet bulls also had a lower ruminal pH during the first 2 months of the finishing period. The dispersion of meals based on a high-acidosis-risk diet may be a way to limit the decrease in ruminal pH.
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Submitted on : Sunday, May 31, 2020 - 4:31:29 AM
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Marie-Madeleine Mialon, Cécile Martin, Florence Garcia, Jean-Baptiste Menassol, Herve Dubroeucq, et al.. Effects of the forage-to-concentrate ratio of the diet on feeding behaviour in young Blond d’Aquitaine bulls. animal, Published by Elsevier (since 2021) / Cambridge University Press (until 2020), 2008, 2 (11), pp.1682-1691. ⟨10.1017/S1751731108002905⟩. ⟨hal-02664277⟩

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