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- Dry cattle and bulls have 3 main grazing periods from daybreak to mid morning, mid afternoon to half an hour after sunset, and then a shorter period about midnight.
- Milking twice a day and removing cows from pasture has a large affect on cow behaviour.
- If the milking routine is long it can have real bad effects on cows, forcing them to graze into the night for an extra 1-4 hours.
- Weather conditions will also force changes to grazing behaviour.
Dairy cows need to eat a lot – how?
- The more a cow eats the more she will produce.
- So she must take in a lot with each bite.
- Length of herbage is important for the cow to become satiated quickly so she can lie down and digest her feed. A cow metabolises more milk when resting than when standing or grazing.
- Cows cannot eat short pasture very effectively. About 20cm is a good length for optimal intake.
- "Social facilitation" is also important. Which cow causes and leads the change in behaviour, eg. resuming grazing after resting, is important. We want the hungry high producers to get up first from resting and start a grazing spell again.
- Offering new feed regularly during the day by moving the fence will always get cows to graze again.
- Feeding concentrate feed will get more nutrients into the rumen, but this is generally not economic in NZ.
- Feeding small amounts of feed more often increases intake.
- Using additives like molasses to improve palatability will also increase intake.
- Cows don’t like musty, mouldy or dusty feed, and these will reduce intake.