Effect of frequency of feed delivery on the behavior and productivity of lactating dairy cows

K D Hart, B W McBride, T F Duffield, T J DeVries
Journal of Dairy Science 2014, 97 (3): 1713-24
The objective of this study was to determine the effect of feed delivery frequency on the behavioral patterns and productivity of lactating dairy cows. Twelve freestall-housed, lactating Holstein dairy cows, including 6 primiparous (PP) and 6 multiparous (MP), milked 3 ×/d (at 1400, 2200, and 0600 h), were exposed to each of 3 treatments (over 21-d periods) in a replicated Latin square design. Treatments included feed delivery frequency of (1) 1 ×/d (at 1400 h), (2) 2 ×/d (at 1400 and 2200 h), and (3) 3 ×/d (at 1400, 2200, and 0600 h). Milk production as well as feeding, lying, and rumination behaviors were electronically monitored for each animal for the last 7d of each treatment period. Milk samples were collected for the last 3d of each period for milk component analysis. Dry matter intake (DMI) varied with feed delivery frequency, with greatest DMI observed in cows fed 3 ×/d (27.8 kg/d) compared with those fed 2 ×/d (27.0 kg/d) or 1 ×/d (27.4 kg/d). Treatment had no effect on milk yield (41.3 kg/d) or efficiency of production (1.54 kg of milk/kg of DMI). Cows that did not receive delivery of feed following the 2200 h milking (treatment 1) and 0600 h milking (treatments 1 and 2) had lower DMI during the first hour after milking than those that received feed at all milkings (treatment 3). Total feeding time and meal frequency, size, and duration did not vary by treatment, but PP cows consumed smaller meals at a slower rate, resulting in lower DMI compared with MP cows. Primiparous cows consumed 50.1% and 26.1% less dry matter than MP cows during the first meal following the first and second milkings, respectively. Lying time did not vary by treatment, but PP cows spent more time lying (10.3 vs. 8.3h/d) than MP cows. Under 3 ×/d milking schedules, greater feed delivery frequency resulted in greater DMI as a function of increased DMI following the return from milking and the delivery of feed.

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