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Impact of concentrate allowance on the behavior and production of dairy cows milked in a free-traffic automated milking system.

A. J. Schwanke

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06-24-2020

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Abstract:

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Impact of concentrate allowance on the behavior and production of dairy cows milked in a free-traffic automated milking system.
A. J. Schwanke*1, K. M. Dancy1, G. B. Penner2, T. J. DeVries1. 1Department of Animal Biosciences Guelph, ON, Canada, 2Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Research to evaluate feeding strategies in automated milking systems (AMS) is ongoing. Concentrated feed is typically used within the AMS to motivate cows to voluntarily visit the milking unit, and the type and amount of concentrate provided may be modified for each cow. The objective of this study was to determine if the allowance of AMS concentrate affects partial mixed ration (PMR) eating behavior, milking activity, and production of dairy cows milked in a free-traffic AMS. Holstein cows (n = 15; 124 � 53 DIM; parity = 2.7� � 0.9) were used in a crossover design with 28-d periods including 14 d of adaptation and 14 d of data collection. Cows were housed in a freestall pen with free-traffic access to the AMS. Cows were all provided the same basal PMR; with treatments consisting of a pelleted AMS concentrate allowance of either 3.0 kg/d (L-AMS) or 6.0 kg/d (H-AMS) on a DM basis. Data were summarized by cow and day and analyzed in repeated measures mixed-effect linear regression models. As designed, cows on the H-AMS had greater AMS concentrate provision (5.9 vs. 3.0 kg/d; P < 0.01). The standard deviation for mean daily concentrate provision increased from 0.49 to 1.3 kg/d (P < 0.01) with greater AMS concentrate allocation. When on the H-AMS, PMR intake was reduced (24.7 vs. 26.3 kg /d; P = 0.03) and PMR meal size was smaller (3.2 vs. 3.5 kg /meal; P = 0.02). Reduced PMR intake was offset by greater AMS concentrate provision; thus, cows on the H-AMS tended to have greater total DMI (30.6 vs. 29.3 kg/d; P = 0.06). On the L-AMS, cows spent +19.3 min/d ruminating (P < 0.01), tended to have greater lying bout length (93.7 vs. 85.9 min/bout; P = 0.07), and lost body condition (−0.04 vs. +0.13 BCS units; P = 0.02). No difference in milk yield was detected between treatments (H-AMS = 46.0 kg/d vs. L-AMS = 44.4 kg/d; SE = 1.09; P = 0.32), similarly milking activity (3.9 milkings/d) was not affected by treatment. Overall, these data suggest that allocating a greater amount of concentrate to the AMS, in a free traffic setup, may promote greater total DMI, but may also result in greater day-to-day variation in AMS concentrate provision.

Keywords: robotic milking system, concentrate, feeding management.