Measuring Feed Intake Patterns and Meal Size of Lactating Dairy Cows

A. J. Heinrichs, H. R. Conrad

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22 Scopus citations


Length, size, and interval between eating bouts were determined for four forages with two lactating dairy cows. The forages were 1) low dry matter alfalfa haylage, 2) high dry matter alfalfa haylage, 3) alfalfa hay, and 4) alfalfa pellets. Recordings were made for 96-h periods, and nibbling bouts were separated from meals according to the time and weight of eating bouts. Meal data were analyzed by a stepwise least squares analysis to determine the best model for characterizing feed intake data for lactating dairy cows. Initial meal size and lengths were not different; however, interval following the initial meal was longer on the alfalfa pellet diet. Spontaneous meals were similar in number and size for all diets; however, meal length was increased on the alfalfa hay diet. Total daily dry matter intakes were not different for the four diets. It is important to distinguish between nibbling and meals for effective analysis of intake, feeding behavior, and meal patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)705-711
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of dairy science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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