Feed efficiency has been widely studied in many areas of dairy science and is currently seeing renewed interest in the field of breeding and genetics. A critical part of determining how efficiently an animal utilizes feed is accurately measuring individual dry matter (DM) intake. Currently, multiple methods are used to measure feed intake or determine the DM content of that feed, resulting in different levels of accuracy of measurement. Furthermore, the scale at which data need to be collected for use in genetic analyses makes some methodologies impractical. This systematic review aims to provide an overview of the current methodologies used to measure both feed intake in ruminants and DM content of feedstuffs, current methods to predict individual DM intake, and applications of large-scale intake measurements. Overall, advances in milk spectral data analysis present a promising method of estimating individual DM intake on a herd scale with further validation of prediction models. Although measurements of individual feed intake rely on the same underlying principle, the methods selected are largely dictated by the costs of capital, labor, and necessary analyses. Finally, DM methodologies were synthesized into a comprehensive protocol for use in a variety of feedstuffs.
- dry matter intake
- feed efficiency