Skip to main content Accessibility help

Voluntary intake: a limiting factor to production in high-yielding dairy cows?

  • J. M. Forbes (a1)


In principle, food intake by lactating dairy cows might be limited by rate of eating, capacity to produce saliva, rumen or intestinal capacity, rates of digestion and passage of food residues, or by factors such as chemicals and osmolality in the rumen. It is likely that a combination of these is used by the central nervous system to control intake. In practice, the positive relationship between digestibility and intake of forages means that high-quality material must be offered to cows during lactation if a reduced level of concentrate supplementation is envisaged but undue mobilization of body reserves avoided. Better supplementation is possible, both in terms of more frequent, smaller allocations, and of more appropriate concentrate composition with regard to the composition of the basal forage. Intake of maize silage dry matter is usually greater than for grass silage and a mixture of the two, perhaps offered in free or restricted choice, is likely to become more widely practised. Changes in body reserves are difficult to monitor and this has made it difficult to resolve the question of the magnitude of diet/environment interactions, i.e. is the same breeding and selection programme appropriate for those animals which are intended to be pushed to high yields in intensive systems and those intended to be given principally forages in semi-extensive systems?



Hide All
Adams, G. B. and Forbes, J. M. 1981. Additivity of effects of ruminal acetate and either portal propionate or rumen distension on food intake in sheep. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 40: 44A.
Agricultural Research Council. 1980. The nutrient requirements of ruminant livestock. Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux, Slough.
Anil, M. H., Mbanya, J. N., Symonds, H. W. and Forbes, J. M. 1993. Responses in the voluntary intake of hay or silage by lactating cows to intraruminal infusions of sodium acetate, sodium propionate or rumen distension. British Journal of Nutrition 69: 699712.
Anil, M. H. and Forbes, J. M. 1980. Feeding in sheep during intraportal infusions of short-chain fatty acids and the effect of liver denervation. Journal of Physiology 298: 407414.
Anil, M. H. and Forbes, J. M. 1988. The roles of hepatic nerves in the reduction of food intake as a consequence of intraportal sodium propionate administration in sheep. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Physiology 73: 539546.
Bines, J. A., Jones, P. A. and Napper, D. J. 1973. The effect of a long-term reduction in rumen capacity on the intake of hay by a cow. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 32: 7576A.
Blaxter, K. L., Wainman, F. W. and Wilson, R. S. 1961. The regulation of food intake by sheep. Animal Production 3: 5161.
Campling, R. C. 1970. Physical regulation of voluntary intake. In Physiology of digestion and metabolism in the ruminant (ed. Phillipson, A. T.), pp. 226234, Oriel Press, Newcastle upon Tyne.
Cooper, S. D. B., Brown, H., Kyriazakis, I. and Oldham, J. D. 1994. The effect of the physical form and the source of dietary carbohydrate of foods offered as a choice on the diet selections of lambs. Proceedings of the forty-fifth annual meeting of the European Association of Animal Production, p. 127.
Egan, A. R. 1972. Nutritional status and intake regulation in sheep. 7. Control of voluntary intake of three diets and the responses to intraruminal feeding. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 23: 347361.
Forbes, J. M. 1970. The voluntary food intake of pregnant and lactating ruminants: a review. British Veterinary Journal 126: 111.
Forbes, J. M. 1977. Development of a model of voluntary food intake and energy balance in lactating cows. Animal Production 24: 203214.
Forbes, J. M. 1986. Effects of sex hormones, pregnancy and lactation on digestion, metabolism and voluntary food intake. In Control of digestion and metabolism in the ruminant (ed. Milligan, L. P., Grovum, W. L. and Dobson, A.), pp. 420435, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey.
Forbes, J. M. 1988. Metabolic aspects of the regulation of voluntary food intake and appetite. Nutrition Research Reviews 1:145168.
Forbes, J. M. 1995. Voluntary food intake and diet selection in farm animals. CAB International, Wallingford.
Grovum, W. L. 1995. Mechanisms explaining the effects of short chain fatty acids in ruminants. In Ruminant physiology: digestion, metabolism, growth and reproduction (ed. Engelhardt, W. V., Leonhard-Marek, S., Breres, G. and Giesecke, D.), pp. 173198. Ferdinand Enke Verlag, Stuttgart.
Grovum, W. L. and Phillips, G. D. 1978. Factors affecting the voluntary intake of food by sheep. 1. The role of distension, flow-rate of digesta and propulsive motility in the intestines. British Journal of Nutrition 40: 323336.
Holmes, C. W. 1988. Genetic merit and efficiency of milk production by the dairy cow. In Nutrition and lactation in the dairy cow (ed. Garnsworthy, P. C.), pp.195215, Butterworths, London.
Hovell, F. D. D., Ngambi, J. W. W., Barber, W. P. and Kyle, D. J. 1986. The voluntary intake of hay by sheep in relation to its degradability in the rumen as measured in nylon bags. Animal Production 42:111118.
Jackson, D. A., Johnson, C. L. and Forbes, J. M. 1991. The effect of compound composition and silage characteristics on silage intake, feeding behaviour, production of milk and live-weight change in lactating dairy cows. Animal Production 52: 1120.
Jasiorowski, H. 1983. Polish experiments with Friesians. International Dairy Federation Bulletin, Document 165, pp. 719.
Kenwright, A. D. and Forbes, J. M. 1993. Relationships between social dominance and feeding behaviour in lactating heifers during periods of heavy competition. Animal Production 56: 457A.
Ketelaars, J. J. M. H. and Tolkamp, B. J. 1992. Toward a new theory of feed intake regulation in ruminants. 1. Causes of differences in voluntary feed intake: critique of current views. Livestock Production Science 30: 269296.
Kyriazakis, I. and Oldham, J. D. 1993. Diet selection in sheep: the ability of growing lambs to select a diet that meets their crude protein (nitrogen X 6-25) requirements. British Journal of Nutrition 69: 617629.
Leek, B. F. and Harding, R. H. 1975. Sensory nervous receptors in the ruminant stomach and the reflex control of reticulo-ruminal motility. In Digestion and metabolism in the ruminant (ed. McDonald, I. W. and Warner, A. C. I.), pp. 6076, University of New England, Armidale.
Mbanya, J. N., Anil, M. H. and Forbes, J. M. 1993. The voluntary intake of hay and silage by lactating cows in response to ruminal infusion of acetate or propionate, or both, with and without distension of the rumen by a balloon. British Journal of Nutrition 69: 713720.
Moran, J. B., Lemerle, C. and Trigg, T. E. 1988. The intake and digestion of maize silage-based diets by cows and sheep. Animal Feed Science and Technology 20: 299312.
Mowatt, D. N. 1963. Factors affecting rumen capacity and the physical inhibition of feed intake. Ph.D thesis, Cornell University, New York.
Poppi, D. P., Gill, M. and France, J. 1994. Quantification of theories of intake regulation in growing ruminants. Journal of Theoretical Biology 167:129145.
Provenza, F. D., Lynch, J. J. and Nolan, J. V. 1993. Food aversion conditioned in anaesthetized sheep. Physiology and Behavior 155: 429432.
Sinclair, L. A., Garnsworthy, P. C, Newbold, J. R. and Buttery, P. J. 1993. Effect of synchronizing the rate of dietary energy and nitrogen release on rumen fermentation and microbial protein synthesis in sheep. Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge 120:251263.
Tolkamp, B. J. and Ketelaars, J. J. M. H. 1992. Toward a new theory of feed intake regulation in ruminants. 2. Costs and benefits of feed consumption: an optimization approach. Livestock Production Science 30: 297317.
Tulloh, N. M. 1966. Physical studies of the alimentary tract of grazing cattle. IV. Dimensions of the tract in lactating and non-lactating cows. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 9: 9991008.
Webster, A. J. F. 1995. Welfare considerations in future selection and management strategies. Breeding and feeding the high genetic merit dairy cow. British Society of Animal Science occasional publication no. 19, pp. 8793.
Weller, R. F. and Phipps, R. H. 1985a. Milk production from grass and maize silages. Animal Production 40: 560561 (abstr.).
Weller, R. F. and Phipps, R. H. 1985b. The effect of silage preference on the performance of dairy cows. Animal Production 42:435 (abstr.).

Voluntary intake: a limiting factor to production in high-yielding dairy cows?

  • J. M. Forbes (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed