A model that combines theoretical and empirical equations was developed to predict daily dry matter intake (DMI) for Holstein-Friesian (HF) cows grazing ryegrass-based swards and offered differing levels of concentrate supplementation. An upper limit to potential herbage dry matter (DM) intake at grazing was set, which is the lower of three limits set by either physical (rumen fill), metabolic (energy demand) or grazing restrictions. Potential herbage DMI at grazing and the herbage allowance were then used to predict herbage DMI, of cows fed only pasture, using an empirical algorithm. If supplements are fed, substitution rate was predicted to calculate actual herbage DMI. An independent dataset, with individual herbage DMI measurements (n = 1,147) of three strains of lactating HF cows, was used to validate the model. Data within strains were averaged for every month of lactation, allowing 27 data points for validation. The fitness of the model was satisfactory, with a relative prediction error (RPE) of 0.083 and a concordance correlation coefficient (CCC) of 0.74. Herbage DMI was simulated for HF cows of different genotypes fed different levels of concentrate supplementation at different herbage allowances. The model successfully predicted herbage DMI of grazing cows under different combinations of nutritional, physiological and genetic variables.

J, Baudracco, N Lopez-Villalobos, CW Holmes, and KA MacDonald

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 70, Palmerston North, 80-85, 2010
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