Influence of feed intake management system on cattle intake and growth performance

Authors: , ,


Variation in feed intake systems and subsequent bunk management between research settings and the beef industry has increased over the last decade. Despite the need for both feed management application systems in the beef industry, a comparison of feed intake, cattle intake behavior, and growth performance between cattle fed in an open bunk system compared to an individual intake system has not been conducted. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate feed intake, growth performance, and carcass characteristics of steers fed in an individual feed intake bunk system (FIMS) compared to a traditional, open bunk system. One hundred twelve crossbred yearling steers (n = 28 hd/pen) were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups: 1) fed in individual feed intake systems (FIMS) or 2) fed in traditional open bunk system (OPEN) with 2 pens per treatment. Steers fed in FIMS were managed to allow for ad libitum feed access while steers fed in concrete open bunks were managed using the South Dakota State University 4-point bunk scoring system, targeting slick bunks or bunk score of 0 three to five days per week with the remainder of the days being bunk scores of ½ to 1. Over the 103-day feeding period, no difference in body weight or growth performance were observed between the two treatment groups with a tendency for ribeye area to be smaller in steers fed in FIMS. Results of this study demonstrated minimal differences performance and carcass characteristics of steers fed in an open bunk system in comparison to an individual intake bunk system. However, additional research is needed to determine the impact of bunk feeding system on individual steer social behavior to account for variation within pen.

Keywords: feed intake, bunk management, feedlot

How to Cite: Lundy-Woolfolk, E. L. , Loy, D. D. & Dahlke, G. R. (2024) “Influence of feed intake management system on cattle intake and growth performance”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report. 20(1). doi: