Effect of pre- versus postmilking supplementation on traffic and performance of cows milked in a pasture-based automatic milking system

Lyons, N.A.; Kerrisk, K.L.; Garcia, S.C.

Journal of Dairy Science 96(7): 4397-4405


ISSN/ISBN: 0022-0302
PMID: 23664340
DOI: 10.3168/jds.2012-6431
Accession: 036884253

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Cows milked in a pasture-based automatic milking system tend to have a lower daily milking frequency in comparison with cows milked in indoor systems. Milking events with intervals beyond 16h have been reported to have a negative effect on milk yield and udder health, and therefore it is important to minimize their occurrence. As feed is the main incentive to encourage cow traffic around the system, a study was conducted to compare pre- (PRE) versus postmilking (POST) supplementary feed placement strategies in a pasture-based automatic milking system. We hypothesized that PRE cows would have a stronger incentive to walk voluntarily from the paddock to the dairy facility to get milked (due to the reward being more immediate), thereby reducing their milking interval and increasing daily milking frequency and milk yield. The PRE cows returned to the dairy facility sooner (PRE=11.9 vs. POST=13.27h) but had longer milking intervals (PRE=15.3 vs. POST=14.28h). This was due to the additional time spent in the prefeeding area (PRE=56 versus POST=23min) combined with a longer average time spent in the premilking waiting yard (PRE=97 versus POST=77min). Treatment did not affect daily milk yield per cow. The result of this study demonstrates the potential of manipulating feeding management strategies to influence cow behavior and traffic in voluntary milking systems.