Calves and Forage Consumption
Are calves clever enough to sort a TMR for different length particles?
A study initially offered calves both TMR (49% dry matter) and a pelleted concentrate after weaning on an ad libitum basis. The concentrate was fed separately from the TMR. Feed was managed so there was always some TMR and concentrate available. During the time both feed sources were offered free-choice the calves were quite effective in sorting the long particles out of the TMR.
Then, the pelleted concentrate was withdrawn. Calves had free-choice access to the TMR. The particle size distribution of the left-over feed was compared to the TMR as delivered. This showed that the calves pretty much stopped sorting for long particles and began eating the TMR as delivered. There was some preference for fine particles (ground concentrates).
Yes, calves are clever enough to sort a TMR even at two months of age.
Reference: J.H.C.Costa and Others, " Short Communication: Effect of diet changes on sorting behavior of weaned dairy calves." Journal of Dairy Science 99;5635-5639 September 2016