The timing in which supplements are provided in grazing systems can affect dry matter (DM) intake and productive performance. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of timing of corn silage supplementation on ingestive behaviour, DM intake, milk yield and composition in grazing dairy cows. In total, 33 Holstein dairy cows in a randomized block design grazed on a second-year mixed grass–legume pasture from 0900 to 1500 h and received 2.7 kg of a commercial supplement at each milking. Paddock sizes were adjusted to provide a daily herbage allowance of 15 kg DM/cow determined at ground level. The three treatments imposed each provided 3.8 kg DM/day of corn silage offered in a single meal at 0800 h (Treatment AM), equally distributed in two meals 0800 and 1700 h (Treatment AM-PM) or a single meal at 1700 h (Treatment PM). The experiment was carried out during the late autumn and early winter period, with 1 week of adaptation and 6 weeks of measurements. There were no differences between treatments in milk yield, but 4% fat-corrected milk yield tended to be greater in AM-PM than in AM cows, which did not differ from PM (23.7, 25.3 and 24.6±0.84 kg/day for AM, AM-PM and PM, respectively). Fat percentage and yield were greater for AM-PM than for AM cows and intermediate for PM cows (3.89 v. 3.66±0.072% and 1.00 v. 0.92±0.035 kg/day, respectively). Offering corn silage in two meals had an effect on herbage DM intake which was greater for AM-PM than AM cows and was intermediate in PM cows (8.5, 11.0 and 10.3±0.68 kg/day for AM, AM-PM and PM, respectively). During the 6-h period at pasture, the overall proportion of observations on which cows were grazing tended to be different between treatments and a clear grazing pattern along the grazing session (1-h observation period) was identified. During the time at pasture, the proportion of observations during which cows ruminated was positively correlated with the DM intake of corn silage immediately before turn out to pasture. The treatment effects on herbage DM intake did not sufficiently explain differences in productive performance. This suggests that the timing of the corn silage supplementation affected rumen kinetics and likewise the appearance of hunger and satiety signals as indicated by observed changes in temporal patterns of grazing and ruminating activities.
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