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Ongoing Chakra Check-In Class

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Castor Panfilov
Castor Panfilov

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Certainly, heifers not assigned to the respective treatments did attempt to consume supplement. However, the SmartFeed system was able to limit the frequency of feeder attendance and supplement consumption by heifers that were not designated to consume the respective supplements via that online control system. Cows that were being fed in SmartFeed units (McCarthy et al., 2021) consumed more mineral supplement on average (125.4 g/d) than heifers reported herein. In comparison, Smith et al. (2016) built a custom mineral feeder with an RFID reader and reported that steers that had access to a commercially available free-choice mineral consumed 72 g/d per head over a 90-d grazing period. The mineral disappearance in Smith et al. (2016) was within a range of manufacturer recommended intakes of 40 to 125 g/head per day. Moreover, researchers in Oklahoma (Reuter et al., 2017) conducted a pilot study using the SmartFeed system to characterize the daily variation in soybean meal supplement with the inclusion of salt on intake by group-housed, self-fed grazing steers. Fifteen steers from Reuter et al. (2017) consumed 1,210 g/d of supplement with a 45% salt inclusion for a 14-d period. Although steers consumed a similar amount of supplement compared to heifers reported herein, variation among animals was also reported with animals visiting 5.1 1.3 times/d over the 14-d period (Reuter et al., 2017). Over the duration of this study, heifers visited the feeders a similar number of times compared with those reported by Reuter et al. (2017) utilizing the same feeder technologies. The variation among animals from Reuter et al. (2017) suggests that competition for use of one SmartFeed unit may have been a challenge because intervals between different RFID readings (animals exchanging places at the feeder) was less than 1 s per animal. Heifers in the current study may have been experiencing similar challenges with competition at the feeder even though they had an additional SmartFeed unit to visit. This postulate was corroborated with visual observations of heifers vigorously exchanging places at the feeder when the herd did visit the proximity of the feeders.

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