Grazing behaviour and species selection of heifer calves fed different forages

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The New Zealand Society of Animal Production
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The aim of this experiment was to determine whether there was a difference in the behaviour of calves grazing different forages. Weaned dairy heifer calves (n = 64) were assigned to two different forage feeding treatments: ryegrass pasture and a clover-herb mix. Behavioural observations were recorded every 10 minutes over a 72 h period. Behaviours recorded were standing, walking, lying or sitting, grazing, ruminating, drinking/grooming, playing and various combinations of these. Calves grazing pasture spent more time lying and ruminating compared to calves grazing the clover-herb mix (34.6% vs 16.7%), and less time standing and grazing (17.2% vs 32.2%). Calves were less active from late evening and early morning and more likely to be ruminating earlier in the day and grazing later in the day. Plant selection (measured as plant disappearance rate) was determined in calves grazing the clover-herb mix. Red clover had the highest disappearance rate on all days compared to other species (P<0.05). Plantain, chicory and white clover eaten on day one did not differ in proportions eaten, but by day three less red clover and chicory remained compared to plantain and white clover (P<0.05).
calf grazing, behaviour, diet selection, herb forage
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, 2016, 76 pp. 126 - 131 (6)