Night feeding for high-yielding dairy cows in hot weather: effects on intake, milk yield and energy expenditure

Aharoni, Y.; Brosh, A.; Harari, Y.

Livestock Production Science 92(3): 207-219


ISSN/ISBN: 0301-6226
DOI: 10.1016/j.livprodsci.2004.08.013
Accession: 004248803

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Heat load impairs the feed intake and milk yield of dairy cows: The higher their milk yield and energy expenditure (EE), the larger the expected effect. Our objective was to examine the efficacy of feeding such cows at night, which avoiding their access to feed for 5 1/2 h during the hot hours of the day, to reduce the heat load upon them in a hot climate. Approximately 120 cows in a herd in a hot region in Israel were allocated to two treatments: day (DFT) or night (NFT) feeding, which differed only in the schedule of feed allocation. The experiment was conducted from May to September 2000 (118 days). The cows were group fed on a total mixed ration, and the daily amounts of feed offered and of orts collected were recorded. The daily group average milk yield was also recorded. Ten cows in each group were selected for individual measurements. The energy expenditure of these cows was estimated once before and three times during the experiment, by monitoring heart rates and measuring oxygen consumption. The rectal temperatures and respiration rates (RR) of these cows were measured in the morning and afternoon on two consecutive days in August. Cows on NFT had lower feed intake but similar milk yield to that of DFT cows, and NFT cows had better milk yield persistence over time. The effects of the temperature-humidity index (THI) on milk yield and intake were similar in the two treatments. The rectal temperature and respiration rate, and the increase in these measures from morning to afternoon hours, did not differ from DFT and NFT cows. The energy expenditure of NFT cows was lower than that of DFT cows, and their efficiency of energy utilization for milk production was higher.