Association of rumination with milk yield of early, mid and late lactation dairy cows

Krpálková L., O’Mahony N., Carvalho A., Campbell S., Walsh J. (2022): Association of rumination with milk yield of early, mid and late lactation dairy cows. Czech J. Anim. Sci., 67: 87–101.

download PDF

Identification of the associations of cow feeding behaviour with milk yield (MY) is important for supporting recommendations of strategies that optimize MY. The objective of this study was to identify associations between measures of rumination time (RT) and MY using data collated from 2 777 dairy cows on nine commercial dairy farms during the years 2017 to 2019. A database contained behaviour and daily MY data. Cows averaged (mean ± standard deviation) 2.7 ± 1.6 lactations, 153 ± 81 days in milk, and 23.2 ± 7.5 kg/day of MY during the observation period. Behavioural data included RT (504 ± 93 min/day), feeding time (FT) (479 ± 110 min/day), resting time (360 ± 94 min/day), and activity time (96 ± 45 min/day). The coefficient of variation for RT (min/day) was 18.5%. The behavioural differences observed in this study provide a new insight into the effects of RT and FT on MY. MY was positively associated with RT in early and mid-lactation dairy cows with correlation coefficients of 0.24 (P < 0.001) and 0.25 (P < 0.001), respectively. The mean level of rumination time (MRT) was shown to be correlated with total MY produced over the whole lactation (305 days). The differences in MY between the highest and lowest MRT groups of cows were 1 735 kg, 2 617 kg and 1 941 kg in the first, second and third lactation, respectively. High-yielding dairy cows in early (≥ 23 kg/day) and mid (≥ 30 kg/day) lactation achieved the highest RT (522 ± 3.54 min/day and 507 ± 3.17 min/day, P < 0.05) and the highest FT (457 ± 4.69 min/day and 496 ± 4.00 min/day, P < 0.05), respectively. Cows in the highest MY groups also had the lowest activity and resting times during the most productive (early and mid) phases of lactation (P < 0.05), which is in agreement with our finding that more productive cows spend a greater proportion of their time feeding and ruminating.

Aikman PC, Reynolds CK, Beever DE. Diet digestibility, rate of passage, and eating and rumination behavior of Jersey and Holstein cows. J Dairy Sci. 2008 Mar 1;91(3):1103-14.
Beauchemin KA. Invited review: Current perspectives on eating and rumination activity in dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 2018 Apr 4;101(6):4762-84.
Ben Meir YA, Nikbachat M, Fortnik Y, Jacoby S, Levit H, Adin G, Cohen Zinder M, Shabtay A, Gershon E, Zachut M, Mabjeesh SJ, Halachmi I, Miron J. Eating behavior, milk production, rumination, and digestibility characteristics of high- and low-efficiency lactating cows fed a low-roughage diet. J Dairy Sci. 2018 Sep 26;101(12):10973-84.
Byskov MV, Nadeau E, Johansson BEO, Norgaard P. Variations in automatically recorded rumination time as explained by variations in intake of dietary fractions and milk production, and between-cow variation. J Dairy Sci. 2015 Mar 18;98(6):3926-37.
Clement P, Guatteo R, Delaby L, Rouille B, Chanvallon A, Philipot JM, Bareille N. Short communication: Added value of rumination time for the prediction of dry matter intake in lactating dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 2014 Aug 14;97(10):6531-5.
Connor EE, Hutchison JL, Norman HD, Olson KM, Van Tassell CP, Leith JM, Baldwin RL. Use of residual feed intake in Holsteins during early lactation shows potential to improve feed efficiency through genetic selection. J Anim Sci. 2013 May 8;91(8):3978-88.
Crossley RE, Harlander-Matauschek A, DeVries TJ. Variability in behavior and production among dairy cows fed under differing levels of competition. J Dairy Sci. 2017 Mar 9;100(5):3825-38.
Dado RG, Allen MS. Variation in and relationships among feeding, chewing and drinking variables for lactating dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 1994 Jan 1;77(1):132-44.
Dann HM, Fredin SM, Cotanch KW, Grant RJ, Kokko C, Ji P, Fujita K. Effects of corn-based reduced-starch diets using alternative carbohydrate sources on performance of lactating Holstein cows. J Dairy Sci. 2015 Apr 15;98(6):4041-54.
De Mol RM, Goselink RMA, Van Riel JW, Knijn HM, Van Knegsel ATM. The relation between eating time and feed intake of dairy cows. Proceedings of the Precision Dairy Farming Conference; Wageningen, The Netherlands. Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers; 2016. p. 387-92.
DeVries TJ, von Keyserlingk MAG, Weary DM. Effect of feeding space on the inter-cow distance, aggression, and feeding behavior of free-stall housed lactating dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 2004 May 1;87(5):1432-8.
Ehrlich JL. Quantifying shape of lactation curves, and bench-mark curves for common dairy breeds and parities. Bovine Pract. 2011 Jan 1;45(1):88-95.
Grinter LN, Campler MR, Costa JH. Validation of a behavior-monitoring collar’s precision and accuracy to measure rumination, feeding, and resting time of lactating dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 2019 Feb 14;102(4):3487-94.
Halachmi I, Ben Meir Y, Miron J, Maltz E. Feeding behavior improves prediction of dairy cow voluntary feed intake but cannot serve as the sole indicator. Animal. 2016 Sep 21;10(9):1501-6.
Haley DB, Rushen J, de Passille AM. Behavioural indicators of cow comfort: Activity and resting behaviour of dairy cows in two types of housing. Can J Anim Sci. 2000 Jun 1;80(2):257-63.
Hunter JD. Matplotlib: A 2D graphics environment. Comp Sci Eng. 2007 Jun 18;9(3):90-5.
Jensen LM, Markussen B, Nielsen NI, Nadeau E, Weisbjerg MR, Norgaard P. Description and evaluation of a net energy intake model as a function of dietary chewing index. J Dairy Sci. 2016 Aug 31;99(11):8699-715.
Jiang FG, Lin XY, Yan ZG, Hu ZY, Liu GM, Sun YD, Liu XW, Wang ZH. Effect of dietary roughage level on chewing activity, ruminal pH, and saliva secretion in lactating Holstein cows. J Dairy Sci. 2017 Feb 16;100(4):2660-71.
Johnson C, DeVries TJ. Short communication: Associated of feeding behavior and milk production in dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 2018 Feb 4;101(4):3367-73.
Kaufman EI, Asselstine VH, LeBlanc SJ, Duffield TF, DeVries TJ. Association of rumination time and health status with milk yield and composition in early-lactation dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 2018 Oct 18;101(1):462-71.
Krawczel PD, Mooney CS, Dann HM, Carter MP, Butzler RE, Ballard CS, Grant RJ. Effect of alternative models for increasing stocking density on the short-term behavior and hygiene of Holstein dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 2012 May 1;95(5):2467-75.
Krpalkova L, Cabrera VE, Kvapilik J, Burdych J. Associations of reproduction and health with the performance and profit of dairy cows. Agric Econ – Czech. 2016 Aug 1;62(8):385-94.
Liboreiro DN, Machado KS, Silva PRB, Maturana MM, Nishimura TK, Brandao AP, Endres MI, Chebel RC. Characterization of peripartum rumination and activity of cows diagnosed with metabolic and uterine diseases. J Dairy Sci. 2015 Jul 29;98(10):6812-27.
Moretti R, de Rezende MPG, Stefano B, Riccardo B. Heritability and genetic correlations between rumination time and production traits in Holstein dairy cows during different lactation phases. J Anim Breed Genet. 2018 Jul 17;135(4):293-9.
Newville M, Stensitzki T, Allen D, Ingargiola A. LMFIT: Non-linear least-square minimization and curve-fitting for Python [Internet]. Version 3.7.3. Astrophysics Source Code Library; Jun 2016. Available from:
Niu M, Ying Y, Bartell PA, Harvatine KJ. The effects of feeding rations that differ in fiber and fermentable starch within a day on milk production and the daily rhythm of feed intake and plasma hormones and metabolites in dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 2017 Jan 1;100(1):187-98.
NRC – National Research Council. Nutrient requirements of dairy cattle. 7th rev. ed. Washington, DC, USA: National Academies Press; 2001 Feb 9. 405 p.
Paudyal S, Maunsell F, Richeson J, Risco C, Donovan A, Pinedo P. Peripartal rumination dynamics and health status in cows calving in hot and cool seasons. J Dairy Sci. 2016 Nov 1;99(11):9057-68.
Salfer IJ, Morelli MC, Ying Y, Allen MS, Harvatine KJ. The effects of source and concentration of dietary fiber, starch, and fatty acids on the daily patterns of feed intake, rumination, and rumen pH in dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 2018 Dec 1;101(12):10911-21.
Schirmann K, Chapinal N, Weary DM, Heuwieser W, von Keyserlingk MAG. Rumination and its relationship to feeding and lying behavior in Holstein dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 2012 Jun 1;95(6):3212-7.
Schirmann K, Weary DM, Heuwieser W, Chapinal N, Cerri RLA, von Keyserlingk MAG. Short communication: Rumination and feeding behaviors differ between healthy and sick dairy cows during the transition period. J Dairy Sci. 2016 Oct 5;99(12):9917-24.
Soriani N, Trevisi E, Calamari L. Relationships between rumination time, metabolic conditions, and health status in dairy cows during the transition period. J Anim Sci. 2012 Dec 1;90(12):4544-54.
Soriani N, Panella G, Calamari L. Rumination time during the summer season and its relationships with metabolic conditions and milk production. J Dairy Sci. 2013 Jun 19;96(8):5082-94.
Stone AE, Jones BW, Becker CA, Bewley JM. Influence of breed, milk yield, and temperature-humidity index on dairy cow lying time, neck activity, reticulorumen temperature, and rumination behavior. J Dairy Sci. 2017 Jan 18;100(3):2395-403.
Van Hertem T, Parmet Y, Steensels M, Maltz E, Antler A, Schlageter-Tello AA, Lokhorst C, Romanini CEB, Viazzi S, Bahr C, Berckmans D, Halachmi I. The effect of routine hoof trimming on locomotion score, ruminating time, activity, and milk yield of dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 2014 Jun 12;97(8):4852-63.
Verbeke G, Molenberghs G. Linear mixed models for longitudinal data. New York: Springer-Verlag; 2000. 570 p.
Watt LJ, Clark CEF, Krebs GL, Petzel CE, Nielsen S, Utsumi SA. Differential rumination, intake, and enteric methane production of dairy cows in a pasture-based automatic milking system. J Dairy Sci. 2015 Aug 5;98(10):7248-63.
Werner J, Umstatter C, Leso L, Kennedy E, Geoghegan A, Shalloo L, Schick M, O’Brien B. Evaluation and application potential of an accelerometer-based collar device for measuring grazing behavior of dairy cows. Animal. 2019 Feb 8;13(9):2070-9.
White RR, Hall MB, Firkins JL, Kononoff PJ. Physically adjusted neutral detergent fiber system for lactating dairy cow rations. I: Deriving equations that identify factors that influence effectiveness of fiber. J Dairy Sci. 2017 Oct 4;100(12):9551-68.
Zebeli Q, Tafaj M, Steingass H, Metzler B, Drochner W. Effects of physically effective fiber on digestive processes and milk fat content in early lactating dairy cows fed total mixed rations. J Dairy Sci. 2006 Feb 1;89(2):651-68.
download PDF

© 2022 Czech Academy of Agricultural Sciences | Prohlášení o přístupnosti