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The diurnal intake and behavior of dairy cows when access to a feed of consistent nutritive value is restricted


John, AJ and Garcia, SC and Kerrisk, KL and Freeman, MJ and Islam, MR and Clark, CEF, The diurnal intake and behavior of dairy cows when access to a feed of consistent nutritive value is restricted, Journal of Dairy Science, 100, (11) pp. 9279-9284. ISSN 0022-0302 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© American Dairy Science Association®, 2017.

DOI: doi:10.3168/jds.2016-12245


The diurnal variation in pasture nutritive value adds a confounding factor to studies elucidating the effect of time of day on behavior. Our work separates the effect of time of day on both feeding and lying patterns for cows outdoors to enable the alignment of feeding behaviorwith feed management. We determined the diurnal intake patterns and behavior of dairy cows when the nutritive value of feed remained constant throughout 24 h in an outdoor environment, and when feed access was restricted. Nine nonlactating Holstein-Friesian cows (live weight 626 ± 53 kg, age 96 ± 33 mo; mean ± SD) were split into 3 groups of 3 and offered lucerne hay cubes (cube volume 32 mm3) ad libitum according to 3 treatments: full access (FA, feed access 24 h), day access (DA, feed access between 0600 and 1800 h), and night access (NA, feed access between 1800 and 0600 h). Treatments were applied to individual cows in a crossover design with 7-d periods. During the last 4 d of each period, data were collected on feed intake, as well as feeding and lying behaviors. Total daily intake was greater for cows on the FA treatment (3.5% of BW) compared with the DA and NA treatments at 3.1 and 2.9% of BW, respectively. The cows with FA consumed 69% of their total intake during the day (0600–1800 h), with the greatest intake (39%) occurring during 1200 to 1800 h and only 12% of intake occurring during 2400 to 0600 h. Cows with DA consumed 56% of feed during 0600 to 1200 h and 44% during 1200 to 1800 h. In contrast, NA cows consumed more feed (74%) during the first 6 h period (1800-2400 h), thus maximizing lying time between 2400 and 0600 h. The time spent lying throughout daylight periods varied between treatments; however, total daily lying time was similar across the 3 treatments. This experiment shows the feeding and lying behaviors of cows when feed quality remains constant throughout 24 h, which will assist the formulation of variable feed allocation strategies for future testing in both robotic and conventional milking systems. Varying the quantity of feed offered throughout 24 h may benefit robot utilization at night in automatic milking systems through increased feeding activity, and as we observed, is likely to have little effect on lying time or DMI, with cows readily adapting to changes in feed management. Conversely, aligning feed on offer with preferred feeding time in conventional milking systems may increase the intake of high quality pasture.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:feeding behavior, lying behavior, dairy cow, ad libitum feeding
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Animal behaviour
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Livestock raising
Objective Field:Dairy cattle
UTAS Author:Freeman, MJ (Mr Mark Freeman)
ID Code:127570
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:TIA - Research Institute
Deposited On:2018-08-03
Last Modified:2018-09-24

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