Relationship between feeding behavior and residual feed intake in growing Brangus heifers. Academic Article uri icon


  • Residual feed intake (RFI) is a measure of feed efficiency defined as the difference between actual feed intake and expected feed intake required for maintenance and production. The objective of this study was to determine the relationship between RFI, feeding behavior, and other performance traits in growing heifers. Individual DMI was measured in Brangus heifers (n = 115) fed a roughage-based diet (ME = 2.0 Mcal/kg) for 70 d using Calan-gate feeders. Residual feed intake was computed as the residuals from linear regression of DMI on mid-test BW(0.75) and ADG. Heifers with the greatest (least efficient, n = 18) and least (most efficient, n = 18) RFI were identified for quantification of feeding behavior traits. Continuous video recordings were obtained for all heifers during d 28 through d 56 of the 70-d feeding trial. Video data of 2 replications of four 24-h periods, 2 wk apart, were analyzed for the focal heifers. A head-down feeding event was defined as a heifer positioned in the feeder with her head lowered. A meal included all head-down feeding events that were separated by less than 300 s. The mean RFI for the high- and low-RFI heifers were 1.00 and -1.03 +/- 0.03 kg/d, respectively. High-RFI heifers consumed 21.9% more (P < 0.0001) DM but had similar BW and ADG compared with low-RFI heifers. The high-RFI heifers spent less time in head-down feeding events per day (P < 0.0001; 124 vs. 152 +/- 4.3 min/d), consumed DM at a faster rate (99.6 vs. 62.8 +/- 3.3 g/min), and ate more often per day (119.1 vs. 90.5 +/- 3.9 head-down feeding events/d) compared with the low-RFI heifers; however, meal duration and frequency were not related to RFI. We conclude that feeding behavior related to head-down feeding events may be more useful as an indicator of RFI than the number of meal events.

published proceedings

  • J Anim Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Bingham, G. M., Friend, T. H., Lancaster, P. A., & Carstens, G. E.

citation count

  • 39

complete list of authors

  • Bingham, GM||Friend, TH||Lancaster, PA||Carstens, GE

publication date

  • August 2009