Relationships of feeding behaviors with average daily gain, dry matter intake, and residual feed intake in Red Angus-sired cattle.
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Feeding behavior has the potential to enhance prediction of feed intake and to improve understanding of the relationships between behavior, DMI, ADG, and residual feed intake (RFI) in beef cattle. Two cohorts, born in 2009 and 2010, the progeny of Red Angus bulls (n = 58 heifers and n = 53 steers), were evaluated during the growing phase, and the latter group of steers was also evaluated during the finishing phase. All behavior analyses were based on 7 feeding behavior traits (bunk visit frequency, bunk visit duration [BVDUR], feed bout frequency, feed bout duration, meal frequency, meal duration, and average meal intake) and their relationships with ADG, DMI, and RFI. During the growing phase, feeding duration traits were most indicative of DMI with positive correlations between BVDUR and DMI for cohort 1 steers, growing phase (n = 28, r = 0.52, P = 0.00); cohort 2 steers, growing phase (n = 25, r = 0.44, P = 0.01); and cohort 2 heifers, growing phase (n = 29, r = 0.28 P = 0.05). There were similar trends toward correlation of BVDUR and RFI for both steer groups and cohort 1 heifers, growing phase (C1HG; n = 29; r = 0.27, P = 0.06; r = 0.30, P = 0.07; and r = 0.26, P = 0.08, respectively). Feed bout frequency was correlated with ADG in C1HG and in cohort 2 steers, finishing phase (r = -0.31, P = 0.04, and r = 0.43, P = 0.01, respectively). Feed bout duration was correlated with ADG in heifer groups (r = 0.29 and r = 0.28, P = 0.05 for both groups) and DMI for all growing phase animals (r = 0.29 to 0.55, P 0.05 for all groups). Evaluation of growing vs. finishing phase steer groups suggests that all behaviors, RFI, and DMI, but not ADG, are correlated through the growing and finishing phases (P 0.01 for all variables excluding ADG), implying that feeding behaviors determined during the growing phase are strong predictors of DMI in either life stage. Sire maintenance energy EPD effects (measured as high or low groups) on progeny feeding behaviors revealed a difference in meal duration with a tendency to differ in average meal intake (P = 0.01 and P = 0.07, respectively). Feeding behavior duration traits may be useful predictors of DMI in Red Angus cattle.