Eating behavior, milk production, rumination, and digestibility characteristics of high- and low-efficiency lactating cows fed a low-roughage diet

Y. A. Ben Meir, M. Nikbachat, Y. Fortnik, S. Jacoby, H. Levit, G. Adin, M. Cohen Zinder, A. Shabtay, E. Gershon, M. Zachut, S. J. Mabjeesh, I. Halachmi, J. Miron*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


This study aimed to identify individual characteristics differing among high-efficiency (HEf; upper 20%, n = 31), low-efficiency (LEf; lower 20%, n = 31), and mid-efficiency (MEf, 60% n = 93) lactating cows. Primiparous (37) and multiparous (118) high-producing milking cows at 30 to 180 d in milk were fed individually a low-roughage diet [31.6% of dry matter (DM)] for 4 wk. Daily average DM intake, rate of eating, visit duration, meal size, and daily rumination time were higher in LEf compared with HEf cows. On the other hand, HEf cows exhibited higher digestibility of DM, crude protein, and neutral detergent fiber than the LEf cows. Daily eating time was similar in the HEf and LEf groups and higher than that of the MEf cows. Visit and meal frequency, average visit and meal duration, daily lying time, and pedometer activity were similar in the HEf, LEf, and MEf groups. The HEf cows produced 1.75% more milk, but similar energy-corrected milk compared with the LEf cows. Milk fat and protein content were lower by 1.8 and 3.8%, respectively, in the HEf cows than in the LEf group. Body weight (BW) and BW gain were similar in the 3 efficiency groups. Diurnal distribution of DM intake showed 6 distinct major meals, each composed of 1.1 to 1.6 visits. Higher intake peaks (greater meal size) were found in the LEf cows compared with the HEf group. Daily DM intake was highly correlated (affected) with energy-corrected milk production (r = 0.61), BW (r = 0.4), eating rate (r = 0.57), and visit size (r = 0.54). Energy balance showed that the lower efficiency of the LEf cows was attributed to their excess heat production and energy loss.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)10973-10984
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors express their appreciation to Yavne Feeding Center (Kibutz Yavne, Israel) for the TMR production, and to the team of ARO research dairy farm for their efforts. This study was support by grants of the Israeli Dairy Board Foundation (Yahud, Israel), project 362-0442 and the Israeli Chief Scientist of Agriculture (Bet Dagan, Israel), projects 362-0469, 459-4514, and 459-4490.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Dairy Science Association


  • dairy cow efficiency
  • digestibility
  • eating behavior
  • rumination


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