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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

Integration of the effects of animal and dietary factors on total dry matter intake of dairy cows fed silage-based diets

Huhtanen, Pekka; Rinne, Marketta; Mäntysaari, Päivi; Nousiainen, Juha


An empirical regression model for the prediction of total dry matter intake (DMI) of dairy cows was developed and compared with four published intake models. The model was constructed to include both animal and dietary factors, which are known to affect DMI. For model development, a data set based on individual cow data from 10 change-over and four continuous milk production studies was collected (n = 1554). Relevant animal (live weight (LW), days in milk (DIM), parity and breed) and dietary (total and concentrate DMI, concentrate composition, forage digestibility and fermentation quality) data were collected. The model factors were limited to those that are available before the diets are fed to animals, that is, standardized energy corrected milk (sECM) yield, LW, DIM and diet quality (total diet DMI index (TDMI index)). As observed ECM yield is a function of both the production potential of the cow and diet quality, ECM yield standardized for DIM, TDMI index and metabolizable protein concentration was used in modelling. In the individual data set, correlation coefficients between sECM and TDMI index or DIM were much weaker (0.16 and 0.03) than corresponding coefficients with observed ECM (0.65 and 0.46), respectively. The model was constructed with a mixed model regression analysis using cow within trial as a random factor. The following mixed model was estimated for DMI prediction: DMI (kg DM/day) = -2.9 (+/- 0.56) + 0.258 (+/- 0.011) X sECM (kg/day) + 0.0148 (+/- 0.0009) X LW (kg) -0.0175 (+/- 0.001) X DIM -5.85 (+/- 0.41) X exp (-0.033 X DIM) +0.09 (+/- 0.002) X TDMI index. The mixed DMI model was evaluated with a treatment mean data set (207 studies, 992 diets), and the following relationship was found: Observed DMI (kg DM/day) = -0.10 (+/- 0.33) + 1.004 (+/- 0.019) X Predicted DMI (kg DM/day) with an adjusted residual mean square error of 0.362 kg/day. Evaluation of the residuals did not result in a significant mean bias or linear slope bias, and random error accounted for proportionally > 0.99 of the error. In conclusion, the DMI model developed is considered robust because of low mean prediction error, accurate and precise validation, and numerically small differences in the parameter values of model variables when estimated with mixed or simple regression models. The Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System was the most accurate of the four other published DMI models evaluated using individual or treatment mean data, but in most cases mean and linear slope biases were relatively high, and, interestingly, there were large differences in both mean and linear slope biases between the two data sets.


intake; dairy cow; modeling; animal factors; diet factors

Published in

2011, Volume: 5, number: 5, pages: 691-702

    SLU Authors

    • Huhtanen, Pekka

      • Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Animal and Dairy Science
    Veterinary Science

    Publication Identifiers


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