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Differences in Voluntary Cow Traffic between Holstein and Illawarra Breeds of Dairy Cattle in a Pasture-based Automatic Milking System

  • Clark, C.E.F. (Dairy Science Group, The University of Sydney) ;
  • Kwinten, N.B.P. (HAS den Bosch University) ;
  • van Gastel, D.A.J.M. (HAS den Bosch University) ;
  • Kerrisk, K.L. (Dairy Science Group, The University of Sydney) ;
  • Lyons, N.A. (Dairy Science Group, The University of Sydney) ;
  • Garcia, S.C. (Dairy Science Group, The University of Sydney)
  • Received : 2013.07.18
  • Accepted : 2013.10.28
  • Published : 2014.04.01

Abstract

Automatic milking systems (AMS) rely upon voluntary cow traffic (the voluntary movement of cattle around a farm) for milk harvesting and feed consumption. Previous research on conventional milking systems has shown differences between dairy cow breeds for intake and milk production, however, the ability to manipulate voluntary cow traffic and milking frequency on AMS farms through breed selection is unknown. This study investigated the effect of breed (Holstein Friesian versus Illawarra) on voluntary cow traffic as determined by gate passes at the Camden AMS research farm dairy facility. Daily data on days in milk, milk yield, gate passes and milking frequency for 158 Holstein Friesian cows and 24 Illawarra cows were collated by month for the 2007 and 2008 years. Illawarra cows had 9% more gate passes/day than Holstein cows over the duration of the study; however, the milking frequency and milk yield of both breeds were similar. Gate passes were greatest for both breeds in early lactation and in the winter (June to August) and summer (December to February) seasons. These findings highlight an opportunity to translate increased voluntary cow movement associated with breed selection into increased milking frequencies, milk production and overall pasture-based AMS performance.

Keywords

Breed;Voluntary Cow Traffic;Automatic Milking System

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