Variation in beef cattle supplement intake using a precision feeding system

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Hanson, Brandon
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This project evaluated the supplement intake accuracy, precision and consistency of eight by-product supplements delivered to cattle via SmartFeed Pro feeder. In Trial 1, cross-bred Angus steers (n=8 hd treatment-1) were offered the following diets over three, 14-d experimental periods: 1) supplementation of ad libitum low-protein forage (5.5% CP) with grain screening pellets with and without caramel-flavoring provided at 1.0 kg hd-1 d-1 as fed, 2) supplementation of ad libitum low protein forage (5.5% CP) with processed pea screening powder (PPSP), sunflower screenings, or flax screenings provided at 0.57, 1.04, and 1.34 kg hd-1 d-1 as fed, respectively; and 3) supplementation of ad libitum low energy forage (41.4% TDN) with wheat screenings, wheat bran, or quinoa dockage at 2.6 kg hd-1 d-1 as fed. In Trial 2, cross-bred Angus heifers (n=10 hd treatment-1) were offered the following dietary treatments: 1) a low-CP (5% CP) grass hay-based supplemented with canola meal (mean 0.28 kg hd-1 d-1 as fed), and 2) a grass hay forage (9% CP) supplemented with sunflower screenings (mean 0.79 kg hd-1 d-1 as fed) over four, 21-d periods. Grain screening pellets without flavoring resulted in lower mean within and between-animal %CV compared to caramel-flavored pellets (13.7% vs 15.3% and 13.9% vs 19.8%, respectively). Steers offered PPSP had higher error, absolute error, within and between-animal %CV (-21.3%, 26.6%, 30.9%, and 31.7%, respectively) than steers offered sunflower screenings (-7.7%, 13.6%, 18.5%, 17.5%, respectively) and flax screenings (1.2%, 6.9%, 8.2%, and 8.5%). Absolute accuracy and within and between-animal %CV did not differ between wheat screenings, wheat bran, or quinoa dockage (mean 8.7%, 10.4%, and 10.4%, respectively). In Trial 2, a lower quantity of canola meal and sunflower screenings supplementation led to higher absolute error, within-animal %CV, and between-animal %CV (mean 27.0%, 29.3%, 30% and 15.3%, 20%, 18.2%, respectively) compared to supplements delivered at >1.0 kg hd-1 d-1 in Trial 1. In conclusion, the SmartFeed Pro system can be used to deliver a variety of supplements on an individual-animal basis, however, lower quantity of feed delivered and system errors may decrease accuracy, precision, and consistency.
Precision Feeder, SmartFeed Pro, SmartFeed, Supplement Intake Variation, Feeding Behavior, Adaptation to Precision Feeder, Cattle Precision Feeding