Comparison of bite size, biting rate and grazing time of beef heifers from herds distinguished by mature size and rate of maturity.

L. L. Erlinger, D. R. Tolleson, C. J. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Sixteen-month-old heifers from herds having known genetic growth patterns were compared for differences in grazing behavior in a 3-yr study. Treatments were heifers from four size-maturity groups defined by the mature size and maturing rate of cow herds in which they originated. Average growth curve parameters indicating mature BW and rate of maturing in these cow herds were 387 kg and .19%/d for treatment Group I; 413 kg and .18%/d for Group II; 468 kg and .15%/d for Group III; and 589 kg and .16%/d for treatment Group IV. Data were from three heifers per treatment group grazing Midland bermudagrass during June and July observation periods. With the exception of the Group II vs Group III comparison, bite size increased with current or mature BW. Biting rate values were similar for all treatment groups but lower than those previously reported on other grass swards. Grazing time increased (P less than .01) in treatment groups defined by larger mature BW. Differences in grazing time for Group IV vs the other treatments and Group I vs Group II and Group III were observed repeatedly; the Group II vs Group III comparison was significant in one period during each of the 3 yr. Diurnal variations in grazing patterns among the treatments were observed. Period of observation affected (P less than .001) bite size and grazing time. These effects were not associated with month but could best be explained by differences in forage height and total mass. Forage availability had a direct influence on bite size, and a compensating effect of longer grazing time with smaller bite size was demonstrated as a regulator of intake. Differences in ingestive behavior were associated with genetic growth patterns in cattle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3578-3587
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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