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The effects of frequency of feeding a total mixed ration on the production and behavior of dairy cows

Phillips, C.J.; Rind, M.I.

Journal of Dairy Science 84(9): 1979-1987

2001


ISSN/ISBN: 0022-0302
PMID: 11573777
DOI: 10.3168/jds.s0022-0302(01)74641-3
Accession: 003970527

Two experiments were conducted to examine the response of Friesian dairy cows to different frequencies of feeding a total mixed ration. The first compared alternate day with daily feeding. Cows fed on alternate days spent longer feeding, had increased dry matter intakes, and produced more milk, but with reduced protein content, compared with cows fed daily. Those fed daily increased feeding greatly after the food was offered to them. Those fed on alternate days had a smaller increase in feeding when food was offered, and their feeding pattern was similar on feeding and nonfeeding days, suggesting that they could not anticipate the time that food would be offered. However, on days when no food was provided they were less aggressive than cows fed daily. Cows fed daily spent less time grooming themselves and more time standing, suggesting that the extra feeding caused disturbance. A second experiment compared frequent feeding (four times per day) with infrequent feeding (once daily), with the cows fed infrequently being either housed with or apart from the cows fed frequently, to determine whether the disturbance of feeding other cows would affect cows housed in the same building but not fed frequently. Both groups of frequently fed cows spent less time feeding in the morning and more in the evening and had less circadian variation in sleeping and lying ruminating, compared with both groups of cows fed infrequently. Cows fed infrequently and housed by themselves produced more milk but with reduced milk protein concentration, compared with the infrequently and frequently fed cows that were housed together. They also spent more time standing in the feeding passage, not ruminating, and more time grooming themselves, indicating less disturbance. Thus cows fed infrequently had reduced milk yield if they were housed with frequently fed cows, and it is concluded that in both experiments frequent feeding disturbed the cows and reduced milk production.

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