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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #250456

Title: How Does “Hunger” Level Impact Grazing Behavior?

item Soder, Kathy

Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/25/2010
Publication Date: 3/1/2010
Citation: Soder, K.J. 2010. Hunger May Affect Grazing Behavior. Graze Magazine. 17(3):12-14.

Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.

Technical Abstract: Grazing behavior can be influenced through feeding and grazing management decisions. Research at our USDA-ARS lab showed that ruminal fill, or how ‘hungry’ the cow is, can affect grazing behavior. Cows that had less ruminal fill took a bigger bite that was shallow and wide, compared to a ‘full’ cow that took a deeper, narrower bite from the pasture sward. This was a result of the ‘hungrier’ cow attempting to harvest the greatest nutrient density with each bite. Farm goals can be combined with what is known about grazing behavior to decide when and how to supplement grazing dairy cows. Pasturing cows directly after milking may impact grazing behavior differently than if they’re fed their conserved feeds or concentrates prior to being turned out on pasture. Pasturing cows only at night may impact their grazing behavior due to preference changes throughout the day. If pasture utilization is to be optimized, farmers may need to be flexible in what and when cows are supplemented.