Heifers transitioning from post-weaning to the growing period performed better on dry hay than on ensiled forage in a Purdue University study.
Sixty Holstein heifers averaging 312 lbs at the start of the trial were fed diets containing 40% hay or baleage. During the four-week trial, hay-fed heifers gained 2.2 lbs/day vs. 1.9 lbs/day for the group fed baleage. Dry matter intakes were similar between groups during the study, but feeding hay resulted in higher gain-to-feed ratios during week four, the researchers report.
In another Purdue trial, growing heifers initially averaging 407 lbs were fed a 60:40 forage-to-concentrate diet containing dry hay or baleage as the only forage source. Compared with heifers fed baleage, those fed hay consumed 0.66 lb/day more dry matter, gained 0.15 lb more weight per day and were 14.7 lbs heavier at the end of the study.