Give Precision-Fed Heifers Adequate Bunk Space

Talia GoesAgribusiness, Dairy

DCHAAdequate feed bunk space for heifers is important in any group-housed heifer facility, and even more so when managing heifers in a precision-feeding system.

Jud Heinrichs, dairy science professor at Penn State University, recommends heifers in a precision-feeding program be given 14 to 24 inches of bunk space as they progress from 4 months of age to pre-calving or 22 months of age.

However, there are situations when feed bunk space can become an issue in a precision-feeding program, such as when heifers are fed 30 to 40 percent concentrate diets and feed access is limited to 6 to 8 hours per day.

He says there are two strategies that can be used when feed bunk space is limited. The first is to simply group animals with peers of similar body weight. The second strategy is to limit heifers from moving about freely at the feed bunk. Headlocks or closely placed divider posts can help with this.

Feeding twice daily is not recommended in a precision-feeding program as this can increase heifer competition and weight gain variability within a pen.