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Department of Animal Sciences
The Robert H. Smith Faculty
of Agricultural, Food & Environment

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Effect of lactation trimester and parity on eating behavior, milk production and efficiency traits of dairy cows


Meir, Y. A. B. ; Nikbachat, M. ; Jacoby, S. ; Portnik, Y. ; Levit, H. ; Elazary, A. K. ; Gershon, E. ; Adin, G. ; Zinder, M. C. ; Shabtay, A. ; et al. Effect of lactation trimester and parity on eating behavior, milk production and efficiency traits of dairy cows. Animal 2019, 13, 1736-1743.


There is absence knowledge about the effects of lactation trimester and parity on eating behavior, production and efficiency of dairy cows. Objective of this study was to identify and characterize in 340 dairy cows, the 20% high efficient (HE), 20% low efficient (LE) and 60% mid efficient (ME) cows according to their individual residual feed intake (RFI) values, within and between lactation trimesters and between 1st and 2nd parities. Efficiency effect within each lactation trimester, was exhibited in daily dry matter intake (DMI), eating rate and meal size, that were the highest in LE cows, moderate in the ME cows and lowest in the HE group. Daily eating time, meal frequency, yields of milk and energy-corrected milk (ECM) and BW were similar in the three efficiency groups within each trimester. The lower efficiency of the LE cows in each trimester attributes to their larger metabolic energy intake, heat production and energy losses. In subgroup of 52 multiparous cows examined along their 1st and 2nd trimesters, milk and ECM production, DMI, eating behavior and efficiency traits were similar with high Pearson's correlation (r=0.78 to 0.89) between trimesters. In another subgroup of 42 multiparous cows measured at their 2nd and 3rd trimesters, milk and ECM yield, DMI and eating time were reduced (P<0.01) at the 3rd trimester, but eating rate, meal frequency and meal size remained similar with high Pearson's correlation (r=0.74 to 0.88) between trimesters. In subgroup of 26 cows measured in 1st and 2nd parities, DMI, BW, milk and ECM yield, and ECM/DMI increased in the 2nd lactation, but eating behavior and RFI traits were similar in both parities. These findings encourage accurate prediction of DMI based on a model that includes eating behavior parameters, together with individual measurement of ECM production. This can be further used to identify HE cows in commercial herd, a step necessary for potential genetic selection program aimed to improve herd efficiency. © The Animal Consortium 2019.