Author(s): SchwartzkopfGenswein KS, Beauchemin KA, McAllister TA, Gibb DJ, Streeter M,
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Abstract Research was conducted to determine whether fluctuations in the amount of feed delivered and timing of feeding affect ruminal pH and growth of feedlot cattle. In Exp. 1, the effects of constant (C) vs. fluctuating (F) daily feed delivery on ruminal pH were assessed in a crossover experiment (two 28-d periods) involving six mature, ruminally cannulated steers. The diet consisted of 86.8\% barley grain, 4.9\% supplement, and 8.3\% barley silage (DM basis) and was offered ad libitum for 2 wk to estimate DMI by individual steers. Steers in group C were offered a constant amount of feed daily equal to their predetermined DMI, whereas steers in group F were offered 10\% more or less than their predetermined DMI on a rotating 3-d schedule. Ruminal pH of each steer was measured continuously via an indwelling electrode placed in the rumen during the last 6 d of each period. Mean pH tended to be lower (0.10 units) for F than C (5.63 vs. 5.73; P = 0.15), and ruminal pH of steers in group F tended to remain below 5.8 (P = 0.03) or 5.5 (P = 0.14) for greater proportions of the day than steers in group C. Inconsistent delivery of feed lowered ruminal pH, suggesting increased risk of subclinical acidosis. In Exp. 2, a 2 x 2 factorial was used to study the effects of pattern (C vs. F) and feeding time (morning  vs. evening ) on the feeding behavior and performance of 234 (310 +/- 23 kg) Charolais x Hereford beef steers during backgrounding and finishing phases over 209 d. One pen per treatment was equipped with a radio frequency identification (GrowSafe Systems Ltd., Airdrie, Canada) system that monitored bunk attendance by each steer throughout the trial. Pattern of feed delivery did not affect (P = 0.16) DMI (7.36 kg/d), ADG (1.23 kg/d), G:F (0.17), or time spent at the bunk (141 min/d), nor were pattern of feed delivery x time of feeding interactions observed (P = 0.18). Late feeding increased (P < 0.05) daily DMI (7.48 vs. 7.26 kg), ADG (1.28 vs. 1.00 kg/d), and G:F (0.21 vs. 0.15). These studies indicate that the risk of subclinical acidosis was increased with fluctuating delivery of feed, but the greater risk of acidosis did not impair growth performance by feedlot cattle. Consequently, daily intake fluctuations of 10\% DMI or less that do not alter overall intake by feedlot cattle are unlikely to have any negative consequences on growth performance.
This article was published in J Anim Sci
and referenced in Advances in Dairy Research