Grazing Soybean to Increase Voluntary Cow Traffic in a Pasture-based Automatic Milking System

  • Clark, C.E.F. (Dairy Science Group, The University of Sydney) ;
  • Horadagoda, A. (Dairy Science Group, The University of Sydney) ;
  • Kerrisk, K.L. (Dairy Science Group, The University of Sydney) ;
  • Scott, V. (Dairy Science Group, The University of Sydney) ;
  • Islam, M.R. (Dairy Science Group, The University of Sydney) ;
  • Kaur, R. (Dairy Science Group, The University of Sydney) ;
  • Garcia, S.C. (Dairy Science Group, The University of Sydney)
  • Received : 2013.07.18
  • Accepted : 2013.09.16
  • Published : 2014.03.01


Pasture-based automatic milking systems (AMS) require cow traffic to enable cows to be milked. The interval between milkings can be manipulated by strategically allocating pasture. The current experiment investigated the effect of replacing an allocation of grazed pasture with grazed soybean (Glycine max) with the hypothesis that incorporating soybean would increase voluntary cow traffic and milk production. One hundred and eighty mixed age, primiparous and multiparous Holstein-Friesian/Illawarra cows were randomly assigned to two treatment groups (n = 90/group) with a $2{\times}2$ Latin square design. Each group was either offered treatments of kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum Hoach ex Chiov.) pasture (pasture) or soybean from 0900 h to 1500 h during the experimental period which consisted of 2 periods of 3 days following 5 days of training and adaptation in each period with groups crossing over treatments after the first period. The number of cows trafficking to each treatment was similar together with milk yield (mean ${\approx}18$ L/cow/d) in this experiment. For the cows that arrived at soybean or pasture there were significant differences in their behaviour and consequently the number of cows exiting each treatment paddock. There was greater cow traffic (more cows and sooner) exiting pasture allocations. Cows that arrived at soybean stayed on the allocation for 25% more time and ate more forage (8.5 kg/cow/d/allocation) relative to pasture (4.7 kg/cow/d/allocation). Pasture cows predominantly replaced eating time with rumination. These findings suggest that replacing pasture with alternative grazeable forages provides no additional incentive to increase voluntary cow traffic to an allocation of feed in AMS. This work highlights the opportunity to increase forage intakes in AMS through the incorporation of alternative forages.


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