Changes in Preferences of Gestating Heifers Fed Untreated or Ammoniated Straw in Different Flavors
Journal of Animal Science
American Society of Animal Science
Atwood, S. B., Provenza, F. D., Wiedmeier, R. D., & Banner, R. E. (2001). Changes in preferences of gestating heifers fed untreated or ammoniated straw in different flavors. Journal of Animal Science, 79(12), 3027-3033.
We determined how a food's flavor and digestibility, along with an animal's recent experiences, influenced food preference and intake. In three experiments, pregnant heifers were fed a basal ration (7.75 kg/animal) of alfalfa, barley, corn silage, and a vitamin/mineral supplement from 1500 to 2200. Exp. 1 determined the influence of recent exposure to flavored straw. Animals were divided into two groups (n = 16/group) and fed either untreated or ammoniated straw with digestibilities of 43 and 58%, respectively. Within each group, half of the heifers were fed maple-flavored straw and the other half were fed coconut-flavored straw from 1100 one day to 0900 the next day, with no base ration. We then offered straw in both flavors from 1000 to 1200 for the next 5 d. Animals fed maple-flavored straw for 1 d generally preferred coconut- over maple-flavored straw for the next 5 d, whereas animals previously fed coconut-flavored straw preferred maple-flavored straw (P < 0.001). The change in preference was stronger when animals were fed untreated compared with ammoniated straw. Experiments 2 and 3 determined the influence of offering straw in different flavors, either in sequence (Exp. 2) or simultaneously (Exp. 3). In Exp. 2, we offered heifers (n = 16) straw in three flavors (maple from 0900 to 1100, coconut from 1100 to 1300, and unflavored from 1300 to 1500) and compared their intake with that of heifers (n = 16) offered unflavored straw throughout the day. In Exp. 3, we compared intake of heifers (n = 16) simultaneously offered straw in three flavors (coconut, maple, and unflavored) with that of heifers (n = 16) offered only unflavored straw from 1000 to 1500. In both experiments, straw intake and preference differed between heifers offered straw in a variety of flavors as opposed to only unflavored straw (P < 0.05), but animals fed a variety of flavors did not consistently eat more than those fed only one flavor. During a post-trial preference test, heifers previously restricted to straw in one flavor for 5 d preferred straw in alternative flavors, whereas heifers fed straw in all three flavors preferred unflavored straw. Changes in preference were stronger for heifers fed untreated compared with ammoniated straw. Collectively, our results suggest that palatability, as evidenced by changes in preference and intake, is dynamic and depends on a food's flavor and nutritional quality and an animal's recent experiences with the food.