Influence of slice baling on feeding value of alfalfa hay in receiving and finishing diets for feedlot cattle.J Anim Sci. 2008 Oct; 86(10):2749-55.JA
Three studies were conducted to evaluate the feeding value of slice alfalfa hay in feedlot diets. In Exp. 1, 108 steer calves (183.1 +/- 1.2 kg initial BW; 6 pens/treatment) were used in a completely randomized design to evaluate the effect of baling method on performance and morbidity of newly received calves. The study lasted 28 d. Treatments consisted of a 65% concentrate receiving diet containing 1) ground or 2) slice alfalfa hay. Steer calves were fed daily at 0800 h. Animals also received long-stem sudangrass hay the first 7 d. Steers were weighed on d 0, 16, and 28. Feed, sudangrass hay, or feed plus sudangrass hay intakes were not affected (P > 0.25) by treatment. Conversely, ADG from d 0 to 16 was greater (P < 0.001) for slice than ground (1.27 vs. 0.81 +/- 0.067 kg/d, respectively) and from d 0 to 28 (1.23 vs. 0.91 +/- 0.042 kg/d, respectively). In addition, G:F was greater (P < 0.001) for slice than ground hay from d 0 to 16 (0.39 vs. 0.25 +/- 0.021), and from d 0 to 28 (0.31 vs. 0.24 +/- 0.013 for slice and ground, respectively). Moreover, morbidity (40.5 +/- 3.9%; P = 0.20) and retreatment rates (30.7 +/- 7.5%; P = 0.14) were similar for slice and ground. In Exp. 2, 176 crossbred steers (393.9 +/- 10.8 kg initial BW) were used in an 84-d feeding experiment (4 pens/treatment) in a randomized complete block experimental design with a 2 x 2 factorial arrangement of treatments to evaluate effects of alfalfa baling method (ground or slice) and forage level (8 or 14%) on growth performance. Experimental diets were based on steam-flaked corn. Daily BW gain was greater (P = 0.10) for steers consuming ground compared with the slice hay diet. A baling method x forage level interaction (P = 0.07) was observed for DMI. Baling method did not (P = 0.98) influence DMI with 8% roughage level. But with 14% roughage, DMI was greater (P = 0.02) for steers consuming ground hay than the slice diet. The G:F ratio was affected (P = 0.03) only by forage level (0.194 vs. 0.182 +/- 0.003 for 8 and 14% roughage, respectively). In Exp. 3, 4 ruminally cannulated mixed-breed steers were used in a 4 x 4 Latin square design to evaluate effects on digestive function. No baling method effects (P >or= 0.16) were detected for DM, OM, CP, or NDF intakes or DM, OM, and NDF total tract digestibility. Digestibility of NDF and OM were greater (P <or= 0.08) for diets which contained 14% forage compared with diets that contained 8% forage. Slice baling improved alfalfa hay feeding value for feedlot receiving cattle. However, no major effects of slice baling alfalfa on finishing performance and digestion were observed.