The Kempen System is a dairy feeding system allowing ad libitum access to pelleted compound feed (CF) and hay. This system allows high DM intake (DMI) up to 30 kg DM (80% CF), but small and frequent CF meals are essential to reduce negative ruminal pH fluctuations. Little is known about feed intake patterns of cows on ad libitum and separated access to CF and hay. Meal pattern analysis was performed to evaluate feed intake behaviour of two different isoenergetic and isonitrogenous CF (starch vs fibre), contrasting in neutral detergent fibre, acid detergent fibre and starch content. Twenty primi- and multiparous Holstein-Friesian cows (203 ± 35.4 days in milk) received grass hay ad libitum with one of the two CF also offered ad libitum. Meal criteria, the shortest non-feeding interval between feeding events separating two consecutive meals, were used to cluster feeding events into separate meals. The meal criteria were determined per cow by fitting the log10-transformed feeding intervals to Gaussian–Gaussian probability density functions. The DMI of CF fibre (18.8 ± 0.54 kg) tended to be greater (P = 0.09) than starch (18.1 ± 0.54 kg/day), while that of grass hay (4.8 ± 0.29 kg) was unaffected (P = 0.23). The CF meal size did not differ (P = 0.26) between treatments (starch 2.9 vs fibre 3.0 ± 0.11 kg/meal), but number of meals per day (6.36 ± 0.229, P = 0.87) and meal durations (64 ± 3.5 min, P = 0.87) did not differ between treatments. The differences in CF formulation were insufficient to create detectable differences in feed intake nor intake behaviour patterns.
- dairy cow, feed intake behaviour, high-concentrate diet, meal criterion.