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Animals 2019, 9(2), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9020048

Readily Available Water Access is Associated with Greater Milk Production in Grazing Dairy Herds

1
Animal Welfare Program, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
2
Laboratório de Etologia Aplicada e Bem-Estar Animal, Departamento de Zootecnia e Desenvolvimento Rural, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis 88040-900, Brazil
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 January 2019 / Revised: 23 January 2019 / Accepted: 29 January 2019 / Published: 5 February 2019
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Simple Summary

In Santa Catarina, Brazil, most milk is produced on small-scale farms that utilize grazing as the main form of nutrition; however, the farms differ in how they provide water for their herds, with some herds not providing access to drinking water while on pasture and other herds having unrestricted access to water. In this study, we assessed the milk production on farms that differ in the way drinking water is provided to the herd. Herds with unrestricted access to drinking water produced more milk than herds that had restricted access to drinking water, regardless of the main breed of the herd, and amount of concentrate offered per cow per day. Simple changes in water management practices may positively impact milk production.

Abstract

In this cross-sectional study, we measured the association between water provision and milk production on intensively managed small-scale grazing dairy herds. Farms (n = 53) were categorized according to water provision as follows: (1) Restricted—cows did not have access to a water trough while on pasture; and (2) Unrestricted—cows had free access to a water trough while on pasture. Herd main breed and feeding practices were included in a model to assess the effect of water provision category on farm average milk yield/cow/d. The effect of pasture condition and environmental variables on milk production were also assessed, however were not retained on the final model. Herds provided with unrestricted access to drinking water produced on average 1.7 L more milk per cow/d (p = 0.03) than herds with restricted access to drinking water. Predominantly Holstein herds produced 2.8 L more milk per cow/d (p < 0.01) than non-Holstein herds. Each extra kg of concentrate offered per day increased milk yield by 1.1 L/cow/d (p < 0.01). In conclusion, providing free access to drinking water while grazing was associated with greater milk production. View Full-Text
Keywords: pasture-based systems; animal welfare; lactating cows pasture-based systems; animal welfare; lactating cows
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Daros, R.R.; Bran, J.A.; Hötzel, M.J.; von Keyserlingk, M.A.G. Readily Available Water Access is Associated with Greater Milk Production in Grazing Dairy Herds. Animals 2019, 9, 48.

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