08 Jun 2022

Feeding behavior in dairy cows. Part 3

Feeding behavior is a significant factor when it comes to improving production parameters in dairy cattle and has a high correlation with animal health and welfare levels.

Feeding behavior in dairy cows. Part 3

Feeding behavior is a significant factor when it comes to improving production parameters in dairy cattle and has a high correlation with animal health and welfare levels.

Underlying wellness traits that affect eating behavior

Feeding behavior (regulated by feedback between appetite and satiety) is the response to the homeostatic mechanism which motivates an animal to seek and ingest nutrients.

These dynamic processes can be modulated by factors such as:

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Social behavior and temper

Dairy cattle are a social animals which tend to establish a hierarchy. This is especially evident when resources are limited, such as in the feeder (Grant and Albright, 1995).  The dominance range determines access priority to resources such as food (Gonzalez et al. , 2008).

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Dairy cattle raised in intensive systems have limited space availability for every animal within the feeder. This scenario can exacerbate competition for food and its effects.

In addition to space availability, the design of the feeder can also influence the onset of dominant behaviors.

Competition can increase in situations where a restricted feeding space converges with limited food availability. This competition often results in shorter but faster meals, which increases the feeding rate(see “Feeding Behavior in Dairy Cattle. Part I and II) and, consequently, the risk of acidosis.

In grazing systems, dominance also has an impact on feeding behavior and intake, as dominant animals have priority access to the best quality food (Barroso et al. , 2000). This usually has a direct correlation with milk production, as dominant cows tend to have greater production levels.




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