• Comparison of a Calan gate and a conventional feed barrier system for dairy cows: feed intake and cow behaviour

      Ferris, C.P.; Keady, Tim; Gordon, F.J.; Kilpatrick, D.J. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      There is little published information on comparisons of individual and group feeding systems for dairy cows. Twenty-four dairy cows were used in a three-period incompletely balanced, change-over design study, to examine food intake and feeding behaviour of dairy cows offered their food via group-access electronic Calan gates, or via a conventional feed-barrier system. The food offered was in the form of a complete diet, and comprised grass silage and concentrates (60:40 dry matter (DM) basis). With the conventional feed-barrier system a maximum of eight animals were able to feed at any one time, while the Calan-gate system allowed a maximum of three animals to feed at any one time. Method of offering the ration had no effect on daily DM intake. During the 8-h period after animals were given access to fresh food, the mean number of animals feeding at any one time was 5.4 and 3.0 for the conventional and Calan-gate systems, respectively, while total intake over this period was 11.0 and 9.2 kg DM per cow, respectively. When access to feed was restricted by the use of Calan gates, animals responded by increasing their intake rate. It is concluded that total DM intake was unaffected by the use of a group Calan-gate feeding system as animals modified their feeding behaviour to maintain food intake.