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Identification of possible cow grazing behaviour indicators for restricted grass availability in a pasture-based spring calving dairy system
- Werner, J., Umstatter, C., Kennedy, E., Grant, J., Leso, L., Geoghegan, A., Shalloo, L., Schick, M., O'Brien, B.
- Livestock science 2019 v.220 pp. 74-82
- biosensors, calving, commercial farms, cows, decision making, eyes, farmers, grasses, grazing, grazing management, herds, milk production, precision agriculture, rumination, spring
- Precision livestock farming uses biosensors to measure different parameters of individual animals to support farmers in the decision making process. Although sensor development is advanced, there is still little implementation of sensor-based solutions on commercial farms. Especially on pasture-based dairy systems, the grazing management of cows is largely not supported by technology. A key factor in pasture-based milk production is the correct grass allocation to maximize the grass utilization per cow, while optimizing cow performance. Currently, grass allocation is mostly based on subjective eye measurements or calculations per herd. The aim of this study was to identify possible indicators of insufficient or sufficient grass allocation in the cow grazing behaviour measures. A total number of 30 cows were allocated a restricted pasture allowance of 60% of their intake capacity. Their behavioural characteristics were compared to those of 10 cows (control group) with pasture allowance of 100% of their intake capacity. Grazing behaviour and activity of cows were measured using the RumiWatchSystem for a complete experimental period of 10 weeks. The results demonstrated that the parameter of bite frequency was significantly different between the restricted and the control groups. There were also consistent differences observed between the groups for rumination time per day, rumination chews per bolus and frequency of cows standing or lying.