Study shows importance of pushing up cow feed

A dairy specialist says cows benefit from consistency in feed availability.  Dr. Tom Oelberg with Diamond V tells Brownfield they used time lapse photography to show feeding behavior and push-up activity.  Oelberg says where fresh feed has been dropped, the cows will eat for about 30 minutes to an hour and then go lay down, but if there are more cows than bunk space, he says it’s important to push the remaining feed to where the next wave of cows can reach it. “In overcrowded pens particularly, that first wave of cows will eat it down to the floor and they will get a drink and lay down, and your second wave of cows that had been laying down come up to eat and oftentimes, cannot reach that feed.”

Oelberg says it’s very important to keep the cows eating, and their studies show if the cows can’t see the feed is up close, they will walk right by it. “They know it’s not pushed up. You know, they’ve got really good eyes. They can see it. Yeah, it’s not pushed up, it’s hard to reach and they’ll walk by and lay down but if it’s pushed up, they’ll stop to eat and we can get pretty good lockups.”

In the study, Oelberg says they’ve repeatedly seen where cows on one side of the barn would be eating and cows on the other side of the barn would look and keep walking because the feed was out of reach.

Oelberg spoke to Brownfield at the 2019 Dairy Strong Conference.

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