Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 August 2016
Two 4-week experiments were conducted to examine the effect of type of supplement, offered through automatic feeders at pasture, on supplement intake and grazing behaviour by multiparous spring-calving Holstein-Friesian cows grazing continuously stocked grass pastures. Four supplement formulations were used: a dairy concentrate containing 180 g crude protein per kg fresh weight (treatment DC), a high digestible undegraded protein supplement (treatment HP), a high starch, low protein supplement (treatment HS) and a high fibre supplement (treatment HF). In experiment 1, groups of eight cows were provided with access to one of diets DC, HP or HS, with a maximum of 4 kg being available during each of two periods, between 16:00 and 03:30 h and between 03:30 and 14:30 h. During experiment 2, groups of eight cows were provided access to diet DC, HP, HS or HF, up to a maximum of 8 kg between 16:00 and 14:30 h the following day. Detailed measurements of grazing, ruminating and supplement eating behaviour were made using jaw movement recorders and the transponder-controlled out-of-parlour feeder software. Treatment had no effect on intake rate per min or daily intake of supplement in either experiment, but did affect the temporal pattern of concentrate meals. Treatment did not affect grazing bite mass, bite rate or intake rate in either experiment. During experiment 1, compared with treatment DC, treatment HS reduced total eating time, total grazing jaw movements and daily herbage intake and increased ruminative mastications per bolus and ruminative mastications per kg grass OM intake. In experiment 2, compared with treatment DC, only treatment HS reduced total eating time, total grazing jaw movements and daily herbage intake. Treatments HS and HF both increased ruminative mastications per bolus. The results indicate that when supplements are available at pasture there is a conflict between the time required to consume supplements and herbage and that supplement type can affect both the temporal pattern of supplement intake and subsequent grazing activity.