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Differences in grazing behaviour between a high and a moderate yielding Norwegian dairy cattle breed grazing semi-natural mountain grasslands

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The grazing behaviour of cows from two mixed herds grazing semi-natural mountain grasslands was studied for two weeks each summer during three years. The two breeds included in the study were the high yielding, modern dairy cattle breed Norwegian Red (NR) and the moderate yielding, old dairy cattle breed Blacksided Trønder and Nordland Cattle (STN). Grazing behaviour included general activities such as walking, standing, lying and playing, and grazing activities such as grazing, drinking and ruminating. During the daily grazing period the cows▙ grazing behaviour were recorded at fixed intervals of 10 or 15 min. Breed differences were found in three of the recorded traits. The NR cows showed a higher frequency of ▘standing▙ than the STN cows (p<0.01), and the STN cows showed higher frequencies of ▘walking▙ (p<0.05) and ▘playing▙ (p<0.01) than the NR cows. The time spent on grazing showed no difference between the breeds. The number of observations in the present study was somewhat limited as these types of studies are very resource demanding. Longer recording periods, more animals and farms would have been preferable. However, the breed differences expressed are in line with the expectations with regard to playing, standing and walking, while grazing activity did not follow the hypothesis made.

Keywords: Extensive pastures; breed differences; cattle; grazing behaviour; semi-natural grasslands

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ã…s, Norway

Publication date: November 1, 2006

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