Bale diameter and feeder design effects on hay waste
Forty-eight mid-gestation spring-calving cows were stratified by BW (583 ± 77.2 kg), BCS (5.4 ± 0.6), and age (5.6 ± 2.5 yr) into 6 pens to evaluate influence of bale diameter and feeder design on hay waste. Tall fescue round hay bales (85.5% DM, 8.22% CP, 66% NDF, 152 cm height) were classified as Small (128.3 ± 3.19 cm), Medium (160.7 ± 6.38 cm), or Large (187.7 ± 3.52 cm) diameter, and placed in hay feeders equipped with cradle chain (CONE) or without (RING) in a 3 x 2 factorial design randomly assigned to a 6 x 6 Latin square. We hypothesized hay waste would increase as initial bale diameter increased in RING and not differ in CONE. Bales were placed on the circular end in round bale feeders (230 cm diameter, 170 cm height) with 16 feeding stations and metal sheeting on top (50 cm) and bottom (60 cm). Small, medium, and large bales were replaced every 2, 3, and 5 d, respectively to ensure ad libitum hay access. Waste was collected daily, and residual forage was collected prior to new bale feeding. CONE (15.8%) reduced (P < 0.10) waste as a percent of initial bale weight compared to RING (18.3%). Waste was increased (P < 0.05) for large (19.4%) compared to small (14.2%), while medium (17.6%) did not differ (P > 0.05) from large or small. Bales were not fed for equal number of days, so data were analyzed as an incomplete 6 x 6 Latin square to evaluate feeder effects relative to access time. Waste was not different (P > 0.10) due to increased access time to small in CONE however waste was reduced (P < 0.05) as access time increased for small in RING. As access time increased to medium and large waste was reduced (P < 0.05). In conclusion, CONE tended to decrease waste. Increasing access time due to increased bale diameter increased waste in all cases, except small CONE.
Keywords: hay waste, bale size, bale feeder