Application of In-Paddock Technologies to Monitor Individual Self-Fed Supplement Intake and Liveweight in Beef Cattle
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2570, Australia
Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA), Capital Federal 1033, Argentina
Sydney Institute of Agriculture, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2570, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(1), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010093 (registering DOI)
Received: 28 October 2019 / Revised: 30 December 2019 / Accepted: 1 January 2020 / Published: 6 January 2020
Individual, daily and simultaneous measures of key variables to manage cattle have been traditionally difficult to achieve in grazing animals. However, nowadays, this could be achieved using technologies which are placed ‘in paddock’ such as automated weighing scales to measure liveweight (LW) and electronic feeders (EF) to measure supplement intake. We used both technologies to study the interplay between the intake of a self-fed supplement (molasses-lick blocks, MLB), growth, and feeding behavior of individual animals fed a sequence of different feed types. We identified a large individual variability in MLB intake with some animals consuming supplement regularly while others not consuming supplement at all. Regular consumers tended to grow more rapidly. Additionally, our results indicate that animals’ MLB intake can be predicted using the number of visits to the EF and their duration. In-paddock technologies could aid to quantify key factors, such as individual variability of supplement intake and LW, that would otherwise remain undetected.