Factors influencing grazing patterns were identified utilizing remote sensors on lactating Holstein and Brown Swiss dairy cattle in order to recommend efficient management techniques to dairy farmers. Over the course of three separate two week periods- one in the spring, summer and fall- data was collected on the dairy herd at Eastern Kentucky University’s Meadowbrook Farm. Approximately 18 cows were used each trial period; half being Brown Swiss and the other half being Holstein. Data was collected via CowManager ear tags, which tracked the five behavioral patterns of eating, ruminating, high, medium, and no activity. These activities served as dependent variables for this study. The independent variables included breed, temperature, humidity, month in lactation, pounds of milk produced, percent fat, percent protein and somatic cell count. This raw data was statistically evaluated using multivariate multiple linear regression analyses. Statistical analysis revealed that breed, season, temperature, stage of lactation and pounds of milk produced impact grazing patterns. Therefore, it is recommended that Brown Swiss cows be allowed to graze longer than Holsteins because of their superior utilization of forage as a low cost feed source. It is also recommended that dairy herds be allowed to graze longer in the summer and fall than in the spring. However, it is probably a more accurate recommendation to graze during hours of no direct sunlight, such as early morning and evening, rather than grazing midday. In addition, it is suggested that individual farm managers evaluate their net income per cow relative to feed costs.
Semester/Year of Award
Bruce R. Pratt
Mentor Professional Affiliation
Open Access Thesis
Barney, Julia N. Mrs., "Isolating Factors that Influence Grazing Patterns in Dairy Cattle" (2016). Honors Theses. 319.