Verdon, M., Rawnsley, R., Raedts, P. et al. 2018. The behaviour and productivity of mid-lactation dairy cows provided daily pasture allowance over 2 or 7 intensively grazed strips. Animals 8(7), 115.
Research into the effects of intense grazing regimes on cattle behaviour and productivity will support the ethical intensification of pastoral dairy production. Two treatments were applied to two herds of 30 mid-lactation cows over 28 days. Cows were offered an estimated 12 kg DM/cow (above 5 cm from ground level) of irrigated pasture per day. The control herd received their daily pasture allocation in two equal grazings while the experimental herd received theirs over seven smaller grazings. Backgrazing beyond the current allocation (morning or afternoon) was prevented. Individual records were taken daily for milk production and behaviour (MooMonitor+). Milk composition, energy corrected milk (ECM), and live weight were recorded weekly. Feeding mid-lactation dairy cows over seven smaller grazing allocations reduced the time cows spent ruminating (p < 0.001), milk yield (p < 0.001), and ECM (p < 0.05). However, milk composition, live weight, time feeding, and pasture consumption were not affected by feeding frequency (p > 0.05). Cattle may have adapted their ingestive behaviour in response to the more intensive strip-grazing regime utilised in this study, with negative consequences for digestive processes and consequently milk production. Intense grazing regimes need to support the ingestive, digestive, and social behaviours of cattle.