The Effect of Frequency of Fresh Pasture Allocation on the Feeding Behaviour of High Production Dairy Cows

For ruminants, grazing and ruminating activities are essential in nutrient capture and ultimately animal performance however these activities can demand significant time and energy. This study evaluated the effect of three different pasture allocation frequencies (PAF’s; 12, 24 and 36 h) on the feeding behaviour of grazing dairy cows. Eighty-seven spring calving dairy cows were divided into three treatments. Animals were rotationally grazed with fixed paddock sizes of 0.14 ha, 0.28 ha and 0.42 ha paddocks for the 12 h, 24 h and 36 h treatments, respectively. Animals (14 per treatment) were fitted with behaviour halters that monitored feeding activity. Diurnal feeding patterns were evident for all animals irrespective of PAF, concentrating the majority of grazing during daytime (90%) and ruminating activity during night (73%). Treatment significantly affected feeding behavior patterns. Peak grazing activity coincided with fresh pasture allocation in the 12 h and 24 h treatments. In the 36 h treatment, grazing was more evenly distributed over each 24 h period with peak grazing activity witnessed daily between 17:00 and 19:00 regardless of fresh pasture allocation, suggesting lack of anticipation of fresh feed delivery. In the 12 h treatment primiparous animals exhibited greater grazing and ruminating activity relative to multiparous animals in the 12 h treatment highlighting the impact of competition for resources within each feed on lower dominance animals.
Publication history: Accepted - 17 January 2022; Published - 20 January 2022.
dairy cows, grazing management, animal behavior, grazing, ruminating, parity
Pollock, J.G., Gordon, A.W., Huson, K.M. and McConnell, D.A. (2022) ‘The Effect of Frequency of Fresh Pasture Allocation on the Feeding Behaviour of High Production Dairy Cows’, Animals. MDPI AG. doi:10.3390/ani12030243.