Dairy cows that are given free access to pasture spend more time lying down and as a result produce more milk than those continuously housed, a new study has revealed.

Researchers at Harper Adams University compared the behavioural differences between two groups of 16 Holstein cross Friesian cows in late lactation.

One group was given free access to pasture during the day and the other half was continuously housed. Both groups were fed an ad-lib TMR ration.

Observations over an eight-day period showed those that were given access to pasture spent 1.4 hours more lying down when compared to those continuously housed.

Both groups of cows ate 21.4kg DM of TMR daily, despite the fact cows with free access to pasture spent one hour less eating TMR.

Despite this cows able to roam outdoors produced 7kg more milk.

This is largely thought to be down to the fact that cows outdoor spent 1.5 hours on average grazing and more time lying down, explained Emma Bleach, senior lecturer at Harper Adams University. “Cows that spend more time lying down improve blood flow to the udder which results in improved milk yield,” she said.

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