One of the best ways to improve dry matter intake and bolster milk production is by paying close attention to cows' feeding behaviors.
At the recent Large Dairy Herd Management Conference, the University of Guelph's Trevor DeVries shared key feeding behaviors that research has identified as the biggest drivers of milk production.
He said, feeding time and meal frequency play pivotal roles in encouraging dry matter intake and, therefore, improving milk production. As a whole, research agrees more meals result in greater milkfat percentage. Similarly, less sorting at the bunk results in better milk components.
Although many behavioral keys and their influences remain a mystery, DeVries said the key take-home message for managing feeding behavior is ensuring cows are stimulated to access feed.
Bring them to the bunk and have feed available throughout the day.
"Research has shown that feed pushups do not stimulate trips to the feedbunk, but they do provide an opportunity for cows to have feed when they do go to the bunk," DeVries explained.
In a study completed on California robotic dairies, farms saw a 0.1-hour-per-day improvement in lying duration per every two additional pushups per day.
Whatever the strategy employed, the more available the feed is, the more cows will eat and the better they will produce.
(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2016
May 23, 2016