Flavor preferences may be used to stimulate feed intake in dairy cows, which may improve use of robotic milking systems and increase feed intake of sick cows. A cafeteria-design experiment was used to determine if dairy cows have flavor preferences. Sixteen lactating Holstein cows averaging 197 ± 32 d in milk, 1.9 ± 0.8 lactations, 27.8 ± 4.2 kg/d of dry matter intake, and 41.5 ± 7.4 kg/d of milk yield were involved in the experiment. Cows were offered 7 flavored concentrate premixes (FCP) and 1 control premix. The FCP flavors were anise, fenugreek, honey, orange, thyme, molasses, and vanilla; the absence of flavor, neutral, acted as a control. The inclusion rate of the flavors in FCP was 250 to 300 g/t on an as-is basis. Cows were not adapted to the flavors before the experiment. Cows were housed in a tiestall barn and offered, on each day, 4 different FCP (1 kg each) in plastic bins placed in front of each cow. The experiment lasted 6 consecutive days. Each FCP was presented to each cow once every 2 d, 2 h after the morning feeding. Flavors and position of the bins in front of the cows were randomized. As a result, each flavor was presented to each cow 3 times during the experiment, at 3 different bin locations. Each cow had access to the FCP for 5 min from the time they started eating. Eating time and amount eaten were recorded. The vanilla and fenugreek FCP were consumed the most, at 408 and 371 g/5-min offering, respectively, whereas the orange and anise FCP were consumed the least, at 264 and 239 g/5-min offering, respectively. Similarly, cows spent the most time eating the vanilla and fenugreek FCP at 99 and 75 s/offering, respectively, and the least amount of time eating the orange and anise FCP at 49 and 50 s/offering, respectively. We detected an effect of bin position: the 2 center FCP were consumed more than the outer 2 FCP. Flavor had no effect on consumption rate. In conclusion, relative to the control, concentrate intake was not affected by flavor, but dairy cows may prefer vanilla or fenugreek flavors when offered a novel choice.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology