Intake Regulation and Grazing Behavior of Dairy Cows Under Continuous Stocking

H.Z. Taweel, B.M. Tas, J. Dijkstra, S. Tamminga

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62 Citations (Scopus)


This experiment aimed at studying the behavioral strategies grazing dairy cows use to satisfy their nutritional needs as the day progresses and the possible role of rumen fill in controlling these behavioral strategies. The day was divided into 3 main periods (0600 to 1200 h, 1200 to 1800 h, and 1800 to 2400 h), where the 3 main grazing bouts (dawn, afternoon, and dusk) of dairy cows usually occur. Four late lactating rumen-cannulated dairy cows were used in a repeated measures design; grazing bout was the within-subjects factor. Cows had access to a 1-ha grass sward under a continuous stocking system. To estimate dry matter intake, bite rate, bite mass (BM), and intake rate at the 3 grazing bouts, cows were rumen-evacuated at 0600, 1200, 1800, and 2330 h, and the jaw recorders were fitted to the cows between these time points. Time spent eating by dairy cows at the dusk grazing bout was much longer than that at the other 2 grazing bouts and composed about 40% of the daily total eating time. Total grazing jaw movement (TGJM) rate was constant during the day at around 75/min. Bite rate, BM, and, hence, intake rate increased, but chewing rate decreased as the day progressed. The increase in BM was mainly due to the increase in dry matter content of the grass at dusk rather than increased bite dimensions. Therefore, it could be concluded that the main behavioral strategies dairy cows use to satisfy their nutritional needs under continuous stocking include manipulating their eating time, biting rate, and chewing rate, with little control over TGJM rate and BM. Dairy cows interrupted the first 2 grazing bouts (dawn and afternoon) long before reaching their maximal rumen capacity, indicating that rumen fill is less likely to play a significant role in signaling the termination of these 2 grazing bouts. However, rumen pool sizes were always maximal at the time when the dusk grazing bout ceased, indicating that rumen fill is more likely to play a major role in signaling the termination of the dusk grazing bout.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3417-3427
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • sward surface height
  • ingestive behavior
  • voluntary intake
  • lactating cows
  • rumen
  • sheep
  • time
  • dry
  • digestibility
  • propionate


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