Maximize your dairy’s profitability with minimal investment (Part 5 of 5)


Hungry cows mean business. Though typically viewed as docile animals, cows have a naturally aggressive feeding drive.

In 1999, Hansen and Pallesen conducted a study, revealing the extreme nature of this drive. Despite physical injury, cows willingly exert more than 500 lbs. of pressure against feed barriers while eating. To put this amount of force into perspective, just 225 lbs. of pressure will cause acute tissue damage. The bend in the feed barrier, pictured left, was likely caused by cows straining for feed.
Clearly, competition for feed cannot be totally eliminated. However, you can improve the feeding environment  to reduce aggressive behavior. 
Hungry cows devour the fresh ration
delivered by this Patz Vertical Mixer.

In his recent Hoard’s Webinar, Rick Grant presented the following as drivers of feeding behavior:

  • *Biggest driver is the delivery of a fresh TMR. 
  • Optimal feeding frequency is twice per day.
  • Easy feed accessibility.
  • Effective feed push-up strategy.

Also worth noting: mixing older cows and first-calf heifers in a group can be problematic due to natural behavioral differences. Heifers take smaller bites, eat slower, and spend more time feeding than older cows. They are also less dominant making them more easily displaced from the manger, even in the absence of overcrowding. Studies have shown that competition with older cows reduces a heifer’s DMI, resting time, rumination, drinking, and milk production. 


This marks the end of our five-post blog series on Rick Grant’s Hoard’s Webinar, “Managing cow behavior for profit and performance.”

Source: “Managing cow behavior for profit and performance” Hoard’s Webinar presented by Rick Grant, Miner Institute. May 9, 2011.

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