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Dry matter intake, body condition score, and grazing behavior of nonlactating, pregnant dairy cows fed kale or grass once versus twice daily during winter

Rugoho, I., Edwards, G.R.
Journal of dairy science 2018 v.101 no.1 pp. 257-267
barley straw, body condition, dairy cows, dry matter intake, feeding frequency, forage, grasses, grazing, ingestion, kale, labor, mastication, winter
The objective of this study was to examine the effect of wintering pregnant, nonlactating dairy cows outdoors on either kale or grass, fed in 1 [11 kg dry matter (DM) of kale or grass + 3 kg DM of baled barley straw offered in the morning] or 2 allocations (5.5 kg DM of kale or grass grazed + 1.5 kg DM of barley straw offered morning and afternoon) per day. The body condition score (BCS) gain over the 47-d winter feeding period was higher for grass-fed (0.5 BCS units) than kale-fed cows (0.3 BCS units), but was unaffected by feeding frequency. Forage DM utilization was higher for kale-fed (97%) than grass-fed cows (76%), leading to higher estimated dry matter intake (DMI) in kale-fed (10.7 kg of DM/cow per day) than grass-fed cows (7.7 kg of DM/cow per day). Forage DM utilization and estimated DMI were not affected by feeding frequency. Prehension bite rate was greater for grass-fed (37.3 bites/min) than kale-fed cows (7.6 bites/min), but more mastication bites were required for kale-fed cows. Cumulative DMI after 2, 3, and 6 h was greater in cows allocated forage once than twice a day and for kale than grass after 3 and 6 h. Mean eating time was greater for cows offered forage once (477 min) than twice (414 min) per day. In conclusion, increasing feeding frequency from once to twice per day decreased the intake rate within the first 6 h after allocation, but did not affect total daily DMI, DM utilization or BCS gain. Thus, moving cows more frequently would not have any significant advantage. It may increase labor requirements, thereby creating a more challenging wintering management than feeding once per day.