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Herbage intake and behavioural adaptation of grazing dairy cows by restricting time at pasture under two feeding regimes

  • E. Pérez-Ramírez (a1), R. Delagarde (a1) and L. Delaby (a1)

Abstract

The time at pasture of dairy cows is often restricted in the context of extending the grazing season in autumn or at the end of winter. The objective of our study was to evaluate the effects of a restriction of time at pasture on milk production, herbage intake and feeding behaviour in dairy cows according to feeding regime. The four treatments consisted of 4 h or 8 h of time at pasture per day tested under two feeding regimes combining rate of supplementation and herbage allowance: either a high rate of supplementation (10 kg dry matter (DM) of a maize silage-soya bean meal mixture in the ratio 87 : 13 on a % DM basis) with a low herbage allowance (6 kg DM/cow per day above 5 cm), or a low rate of supplementation (5 kg DM of the same supplement) with a high herbage allowance (11 kg DM/cow per day). The study was carried out according to a 4 × 4 Latin square design with four 2-week periods, with 48 mid-lactation Holstein cows. The cows in the 4-h treatment had access to pasture from 0900 h to 1300 h and those in the 8-h treatment from 0900 h to 1700 h. The supplement was given at 1830 h. When time at pasture was reduced from 8 h to 4 h per day, herbage intake decreased (9.9 v. 8.1 kg DM, P < 0.001), along with a fall in milk production (22.3 v. 21.2 kg, P < 0.001) and milk protein concentration (30.1 v. 29.6 g/kg, P < 0.001), while milk fat concentration increased (39.4 v. 39.9 g/kg, P < 0.05). The effect of time at pasture on milk production was slightly more marked on the low-supplement feeding regime (interaction P < 0.06). Reducing time at pasture by 4 h led to a sharp decrease in grazing time (327 v. 209 min, P < 0.001), but strongly increased the pasture intake rate (31 v. 39 g DM/min, P < 0.001) and the proportion of time spent grazing (0.68 v. 0.87, P < 0.001). Cows showed a stronger motivation for grazing when receiving the low-supplement feeding regime. In conclusion, we showed that reducing time at pasture from 8 to 4 h for cows receiving 5 to 10 kg DM of a maize silage-based supplement decreased moderately milk production and herbage intake, because of the capacity for behavioural adaptation by the grazing dairy cows.

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Keywords

Herbage intake and behavioural adaptation of grazing dairy cows by restricting time at pasture under two feeding regimes

  • E. Pérez-Ramírez (a1), R. Delagarde (a1) and L. Delaby (a1)

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