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Effects of the number of yearling Boer crossbred wethers per automated feeding system on feed intake, feeding behavior, and growth performance

A. L. Goetsch, T. A. Gipson, G. Detweiler, R. C. Merkel, T. Sahlu

E (Kika) de la Garza American Institute for Goat Research, Langston University, Langston, OK

Thirty-six growing Boer x Spanish wethers (initial BW = 30 ± 0.7 kg) were used in an 82-d experiment to determine effects of the number of animals per automated feeding system (NPF; 6, 8, 10, and 12), allowing consumption by only one animal at a given time, on intake of a pelleted 50% concentrate diet (60% TDN, DM basis), feeding behavior, and growth performance. During the entire experiment DMI (1436, 1506, 1506, and 1312 g/d), ADG (156, 167, 181, and 136 g/d) and ADG:DMI (108, 111, 120, and 103 g/kg for 6, 8, 10, and 12 NPF, respectively) were affected by NPF quadratically (P < 0.05, 0.05, and 0.06, respectively). The number of feeder visits (17.5, 17.2, 18.0, and 18.6) was similar among NPF, although feeder occupancy per day (97.8, 73.0, 83.3, and 70.7 min) and visit (5.69, 4.34, 4.84, and 3.79 min for 6, 8, 10, and 12 NPF, respectively) decreased linearly with increasing NPF (P < 0.05). The rate of DM consumption relative to feeder occupancy time tended to increase linearly (P < 0.08) with increasing NPF because of a relatively low value for 6 NPF (14.9, 21.2, 18.9, and 21.1 g/min for 6, 8, 10, and 12 NPF, respectively). In summary, 8 and 10 growing Boer crossbred wethers per automated feeder, allowing consumption of a 50% concentrate diet by one wether at a given time, resulted in growth performance greater than for 12 wethers, apparently due to limited feed intake by 12 wethers. Also, performance with 6 wethers per feeder was slightly less than with 8 or 10, which may have involved factors such as limited feed intake resulting from conditions other than inadequate feeder availability.


 

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