Skip to main content

Effects of feed delivery frequency in different environmental conditions on time budget of lactating dairy cows

  • Gabriele Mattachini (a1), Luciana Bava (a1), Anna Sandrucci (a1), Alberto Tamburini (a1), Elisabetta Riva (a1) and Giorgio Provolo (a1)...

This study aimed to examine the influence of feed delivery frequency and environmental conditions on daily time budget of lactating dairy cows. The study was carried out in two commercial dairy farms with Holstein herds. Fifty lactating dairy cows milked in automatic milking units (AMS farm) and 96 primiparous lactating dairy cows milked in a conventional milking parlour (conventional farm) were exposed to different frequencies of feed delivery replicated in different periods of the year (warm and mild) that were characterized by different temperature-humidity indices (THI). On each farm, feeding treatments consisted of two different feed delivery frequencies (1× and 2× on the AMS farm; 2× and 3× on the conventional farm). All behaviours of the cows were monitored for the last 8 d of each treatment period using continuous video recording. The two data sets from different farm systems were considered separately for analysis. On both farms, environmental conditions expressed as THI affected time budgets and the pattern of the behavioural indices throughout the day. The variation in the frequency of feed delivery seems to affect the cow's time budget only in a limited way. Standing time of cows on the conventional farm and the time spent by cows in the milking waiting area on the AMS farm both increased in response to increased feeding frequency. Although feed delivery frequency showed limited influence on cow's time budget, the effect on standing time could be carefully considered, especially on farms equipped with AMS where the type of cow traffic system (e.g., milking first) might amplify the negative consequences of more frequent feed delivery. Further investigations are required to evaluate the effect of THI and feed delivery frequency on other aspects of behavioural activity.

Corresponding author
*For correspondence; e-mail:
Hide All
Allen, JD, Hall, LW, Collier, RJ & Smith, JF 2015 Effect of core body temperature, time of day, and climate conditions on behavioral patterns of lactating dairy cows experiencing mild to moderate heat stress. Journal of Dairy Science 98 118127
Armstrong, DV 1994 Heat stress interaction with shade and cooling. Journal of Dairy Science 77 20442050
Bava, L, Tamburini, A, Penati, C, Riva, E, Mattachini, G, Provolo, G & Sandrucci, A 2012 Effects of feeding frequency and environmental conditions on dry matter intake, milk yield and behaviour of dairy cows milked in conventional or automatic milking systems. Italian Journal of Animal Science 11 e42 203235
Brown-Brandl, TM, Nienaber, JA, Eigenberg, RA, Mader, TL, Morrow, JL & Dailey, JW 2006 Comparison of heat tolerance of feedlot heifers of different breeds. Livestock Science 105 1926
Cook, NB, Bennett, TB & Nordlund, KV 2005 Monitoring indices of cow comfort in free-stall-housed dairy herds. Journal of Dairy Science 88 38763885
Cook, NB, Mentink, RL, Bennet, TB & Burgi, K 2007 The effect of heat stress and lameness on time budgets of lactating cows. Journal of Dairy Science 90 16741682
DeVries, TJ & von Keyserlingk, MAG 2005 Time of feed delivery affects the feeding and lying patterns of dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 88 625631
DeVries, TJ, von Keyserlingk, MAG, Weary, DM & Beauchemin, KA 2003 Measuring the feeding behavior of lactating dairy cows in early to peak lactation. Journal of Dairy Science 86 33543361
DeVries, TJ, von Keyserlingk, MAG & Beauchemin, KA 2005 Frequency of feed delivery affects the behavior of lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 88 35533562
Dikmen, S & Hansen, PJ 2009 Is the temperature-humidity index the best indicator of heat stress in lactating dairy cows in a subtropical environment? Journal of Dairy Science 92 109116
Endres, MI & Barberg, AE 2007 Behavior of dairy cows in an alternative bedded-pack housing system. Journal of Dairy Science 90 41924200
Grant, RJ & Albright, JL 2000 Feeding behaviour. In Farm Animal Metabolism and Nutrition, pp. 365382 (Ed. Mello, JPFD). Wallingford, Oxon, UK: CABI Publishing
Hart, KD, McBride, BW, Duffield, TF & DeVries, TJ 2014 Effect of frequency of feed delivery on the behavior and productivity of lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 97 17131724
Ito, K, Weary, DM & von Keyserlingk, MAG 2009 Lying behavior: assessing within- and between-herd variation in free-stall-housed dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 92 44124420
Legrand, A, Schütz, KE & Tucker, CB 2011 Using water to cool cattle: behavioral and physiological change associated with voluntary use of cow showers. Journal of Dairy Science 94 33763386
Mattachini, G, Riva, E & Provolo, G 2011 The lying and standing activity indices of dairy cows in free-stall housing. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 129 1827
Oostra, HH, Stefanowska, J & Sallvik, K 2005 The effects of feeding frequency on waiting time, milking frequency, cubicle and feeding fence utilization for cows in an automatic milking system. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section A – Animal Science 55 158165
Overton, MW, Sischo, WM, Temple, GD & Moore, DA 2002 Using time-lapse video photography to assess dairy cattle lying behavior in a free-stall barn. Journal of Dairy Science 85 24072413
Phillips, CJC & Rind, MI 2001 The effects of frequency of feeding a total mixed ration on the production and behavior of dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 84 19791987
Porto, SMC, Arcidiacono, C, Anguzza, U & Cascone, G 2015 The automatic detection of dairy cow feeding and standing behaviours in free-stall barns by a computer vision-based system. Biosystems Engineering 133 4655
Provolo, G & Riva, E 2009 One year study of lying and standing behaviour of dairy cows in a freestall barn in Italy. Journal of Agricultural Engineering 2 2733
West, JW, Mullini, BG & Bernar, JK 2003 Effects of hot, humid weather on milk temperature, dry matter intake, and milk yield of lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 86 232242
Yousef, MK 1985 Stress Physiology in Livestock. Press Boca Raton, FL, USA: CRC
Zähner, M, Schrader, L, Hauser, R, Keck, M, Langhans, W & Wechsler, B 2004 The influence of climatic conditions on physiological and behavioural parameters in dairy cows kept in open stables. Animal Science 78 139147
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Dairy Research
  • ISSN: 0022-0299
  • EISSN: 1469-7629
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-dairy-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed