University of Vermont

Pasture Research at the University of Vermont

Dairy Cow Grazing Behavior
Abdon Schmitt, Joshua Silman, Farouk Abdul-Wahid, Mike Hanson, Mike Eastman, Wayne Ohlsson, Doug Watkins, Don Maynard and Bill Murphy
Duration:  1993 and 1995
Knowledge about grazing behavior is indispensable for improving grazing intensity and intake.  The objective of these studies were to determine the grazing behavior of milking cows under management intensive grazing to possible influence the cows so they graze more high-quality forage, use less energy to graze, and produce more milk with less supplementation.  During two seven day periods in 1993 and 1994, the grazing activity of 53 Holstein cows was recorded every 15 minutes from 9a.m. to 4p.m.  In general, cows grazed 39% of the time and ruminated or rested the other 60%.  Total grazing times of each cow had no relationship with their dominance value.    They grazed near the fence (within a meter) 24% of the time even though this area is less than 24% of the total; time grazing near the fence had no apparent relationship with social hierarchy.  In 1995/96, cows were given 85% of a fresh paddock after morning milking; then given the remaining 15% 2 hours before the afternoon milking.  This prompted intensive grazing that last two hours when normally, the cows would not be grazing.  This management change, which only involved daytime grazing, increased milk yield 2 lb/cow/day.

Last modified December 13 2005 10:02 AM

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