Development of a model for the prediction of feed intake by dairy cows: 1. Prediction of feed intake

R.L.G. Zom, G. André, A.M. van Vuuren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


A study was undertaken to develop a model for the prediction of dry matter intake by lactating Holstein Friesian dairy cows. To estimate the model parameters, a calibration dataset was compiled with the data from 32 feeding experiments conducted at 9 different sites. The database contained weekly information on 1507 lactating Holstein Friesian dairy cows regarding their diet composition and feed analysis, together with their individual voluntary feed intake, milk yield (MY), milk composition, parity, days in lactation and days pregnant. Dry matter intake was predicted from feed and animal characteristics. The feed chemical composition and digestibility can be related to feed degradation, bulk volume, intake rate, palatability and other factors influencing feed intake. Therefore, the data of standard feed analysis were used to estimate the satiety value of numerous commonly used feeds and forages. The satiety value is the measure of the extent to which a feed limits intake. The cows' ability to process the intake-limiting satiety value-units is expressed as the feed intake capacity, which is predicted from parity, days in milk and days of pregnancy which are indicators of the size and physiological state of the cow. This study shows that feed intake can be predicted using a limited number of easy-to-measure inputs that are available on commercial farms, yet reasonably biologically sound. Because the model inputs are not related to animal output (milk yield or body weight), future extension of the intake model with models for the prediction of animal performance is possible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-57
JournalLivestock Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • dry-matter intake
  • ruminal starch degradation
  • voluntary food-intake
  • 2 complete diets
  • milk-production
  • grass-silage
  • concentrate supplementation
  • nutritional-value
  • grazing behavior
  • crop maturity


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