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Eating Time – a Future Management Tool

08 July 2009

DENMARK - Analysis of recordings from the Danish Cattle Research Centre have shown that eating time in dairy cows can provide an estimate of feed intake. Recordings of duration of eating may thus be a possible tool for pointing out ”problem cows”.

As farm size increases the need for new automatic control tools also increases, reports Aarhus University, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences. Some studies suggest that changes in the duration of eating in dairy cows may indicate if a cow is developing a disease. Changes in eating pattern and duration are often the first signs of disease.

Eating time as a tool for control?


Knowledge of cow eating times can reveal if a disease is underway.
Photo: KFC

Together with AgroTech, theFaculty of Agricultural Sciences is therefore investigating if recordings of duration of eating in dairy cows can be used as a control tool. The prerequisite for this is that the recorded duration of eating can be used as an estimate of feed intake and that there are obvious changes in the individual cows’ eating behaviour when developing a disease.

Duration of eating – relationship to feed intake

Preliminary analyses of the relationship between duration of eating and feed intake show that the duration of eating in healthy cows can predict feed intake relatively precisely. It is not possible to register individual cow eating times on a practical farm with the equipment used at the Danish Cattle Research Centre. However, in the future it might be possible to carry out automatic registration using, for example, electronic ear tags and antennas placed at the feed trough with the aim of finding sick cows.

The project collaboration between AgroTech and the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Aarhus University, is financed by the Danish Cattle Federation and the Danish Council for Strategic Research.

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