The objective of this experiment was to investigate the effect of restricting pasture access time on milk production and composition, body weight and body condition score change, dry matter intake, and grazing behavior of autumn calving dairy cows in midlactation. Fifty-two (19 primiparous and 33 multiparous) Holstein-Friesian dairy cows (mean calving date, August 17 ± 91.2 d) were randomly assigned to a 4-treatment (n = 13) randomized block design grazing study. The 4 grazing treatments were: (i) full-time access to pasture (22H; control), (ii) 9-h access to pasture (9H), (iii) two 4.5-h periods of access to pasture after both milkings (2 × 4.5H), and (iv) two 3-h periods of access to pasture after both milkings (2 × 3H). Experimental treatments were imposed from March 7 to April 6, 2007 (31 d). The pregrazing herbage mass of swards offered to all treatments was 1,268 kg of dry matter/ha, and sward organic matter digestibility was 86.4%, indicating high-quality swards conducive to high dry matter intake. Swards where animals had 22H and 2 × 4.5H access to pasture had the lowest postgrazing sward heights (3.5 cm), reflecting the greatest levels of sward utilization. After the experimental period, there were no differences in milk production; however, the 2 × 3H animals tended to have lower milk protein concentration (−0.17%) compared with 22H animals. Furthermore, dry matter intake of the 9H animals was lower than 22H animals. Although restricting access time to pasture decreased grazing time, animals compensated by increasing their intake/minute and intake/bite. Restricting pasture access time resulted in much greater grazing efficiency, because the 9H, 2 × 4.5H, and 2 × 3H treatments spent a greater proportion of their time at pasture grazing (81, 81, and 96%, respectively) than 22H animals (42%). Results of this study indicate that allocating animals restricted access to pasture does not significantly affect milk production. This study also found that the total access time should be greater than 6 h and that perhaps needs to be divided into 2 periods.
Kennedy, E., McEvoy, M., Murphy, J. P., & O’donovan, M. (2009). Effect of restricted access time to pasture on dairy cow milk production, grazing behavior, and dry matter intake. Journal of Dairy Science, 92(1), 168-176. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2008-1091