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The effect of TMR on dairy cow preference to be indoors or at pasture.

This study investigated whether offering a TMR at pasture affected cow preference to be indoors or outdoors.

Year of Publication2010

Grazing is considered a normal behaviour for dairy cattle, although they may not be able to meet their nutritional requirements from grazing alone, and so require access to a total mixed ration (TMR). This study investigated whether offering a TMR at pasture affected cow preference to be indoors or outdoors. The study took place in the UK from August to November 2009, using 36 Holstein dairy cows. The study had three 26 day experimental periods, with 12 cows studied in each. Within each period a cross over design was used with the cows swapping between a control and a treatment group halfway through the study period. Control cows had access to TMR indoors only, whereas treatment cows had access to TMR indoors and at pasture via Calan gates. As a group, the cows were given the choice of going out to pasture or into a cubicle house following AM and PM milking. They were then free to move between the two until next milking. A video camera was used to record time spent in each location. The cows spent 71.1% of their time at pasture when given the choice. Cows spent less time at pasture as the season progressed but treatment had no effect. The results indicated that cows had a partial preference for pasture, which was not influenced by TMR being provided at pasture, although the cows spent less time at pasture as the season progressed.

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Supporting the development of the national rural economy.

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