Comparative grazing behavior of lactating Holstein-Friesian, Jersey, and Jersey x Holstein-Friesian dairy cows and its association with intake capacity and production efficiency

R Prendiville, E Lewis, K M Pierce, F Buckley
Journal of Dairy Science 2010, 93 (2): 764-74
The objectives of this study were to investigate differences in grazing behavior among Holstein-Friesian (HF), Jersey (JE), and Jersey x Holstein-Friesian (F(1)) cows under an intensive, seasonal, grass-based environment and to determine whether associations exist among grazing behavior, intake capacity, and production efficiency. Data from a total of 108 animals (37 HF, 34 JE, and 37F(1)) were available for analysis. Measurements included milk production, body weight (BW), intake, and grazing behavior. Breed group had a significant effect on all of the production, grass dry matter intake, and efficiency parameters investigated. No differences were observed among the breeds for grazing time, number of grazing bouts, grazing bout duration, and total number of bites. Grazing mastications were higher for the JE cows compared with the HF cows. Grass dry matter intake per bite and rate of intake per minute were higher for the HF cows compared with the JE cows. Large differences between the breeds were apparent when grazing behavior measurements were expressed per unit of BW and per unit of intake. In absolute terms, the HF cows spent more time ruminating and had more mastications during rumination than the JE cows. However, when expressed per unit of BW, ruminating time was greater for the JE cows and they tended to have more ruminating mastications compared with the HF cows. Despite these differences, ruminating time and ruminating mastications per unit of intake were similar for the 2 breeds. For the most part, the F(1) cows tended to be similar to the mid-parent mean, but results showed an increase in biting rate, lower grazing duration per bout, and a tendency to achieve a high intake per bite compared with the average of the parent breeds. The results obtained also indicate that inherent grazing and ruminating differences exist between cows varying in intake capacity and production efficiency. Cows with higher intake capacities have increased grazing time and rate of intake per unit of BW. Increased production efficiency, on the other hand, appears to be aided, in particular by improvements in mastication behavior during grazing.

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