Associations among body energy status, feeding duration and activity with respect to diet energy and protein content in housed dairy cows

Liveness Jessica Banda*, Mizeck Gift Gibson Chagunda, Cheryl Joy Ashworth, David John Roberts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


The study in this research paper was undertaken with a hypothesis that accelerometer data can be used to improve monitoring of energy balance in dairy cows. Animals of high (select, S) and average (control, C) genetic-merit lines were allocated to two feeding systems, by-product (BP) and homegrown (HG). This culminated in four production systems referred to as BPS, BPC, HGS and HGC. Cows between their first and fourth lactations were included and a total of 8602 records were used. The target crude protein (CP) and metabolisable energy (ME) content in the BP diet was 185 g/kg DM and 12.3 MJ/kg DM while it was 180 g/kg DM, and 11.5 MJ/kg DM for the HG diet, respectively. Milk yield, body energy content (BEC) and animal activity were monitored while the animals were all housed for winter. Results showed that cows on homegrown feeds were significantly (P < 0.05) more active than cows on by-product feeds as indicated by higher motion index and number of steps per day. Feeding duration was not significantly different (P > 0.05) between cows under by-product feeding system irrespective of the energy balance of the cows. However, there were significant differences for cows under homegrown feeding system. Cows in negative energy balance had a longer feeding duration per day than cows in positive energy balance. Milk yield was negatively correlated (P < 0.05) to motion index and number of steps per day but not to lying time and feeding duration. The results showed differences in cow activity were related to diet content and body energy status. This is useful in precision farming where feeds are provided according to specific animal behaviour and feed requirements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-133
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Dairy Research
Issue number2
Early online date7 Apr 2022
Publication statusPrint publication - 7 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge Flanders International Cooperation Agency (FICA), Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), The Roslin Institute and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC {BB/J004316/1}) for financial and technical support.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Hannah Dairy Research Foundation.


  • Energy balance
  • feeding duration
  • genetic merit
  • motion index
  • production system


Dive into the research topics of 'Associations among body energy status, feeding duration and activity with respect to diet energy and protein content in housed dairy cows'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this