Nutrition, rumination and heat stress as influential factors in dairy cows production: A review


  • Mária Kapusniaková Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra
  • Miroslav Juráček Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra
  • Ondrej Hanušovský Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra
  • Michal Rolinec Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra
  • Branislav Gálik Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra
  • Andrej Duchoň Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra
  • Stanislava Drotárová Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra
  • Mária Kalúzová Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra
  • Milan Šimko Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra


dairy cows, nutrition, rumination, heat stress, milk yield


The aim of this review is to consolidate the already much published knowledge concerning the gastrointestinal tract of the dairy cow in relation to nutrition. This review document deals with the essential living conditions of dairy cows, with an attention to nutrition, and highlights the importance of correct ration design. Dairy cows in different production cycles have special requirements for the composition, structure and nutrient composition of their rations. This review document provides more detailed information on the physical structure of feedstuffs as well as the need for individual nutrients for the right functioning of the dairy cow. These elements determine total health, feed intake, rumination, the development of metabolic diseases and last but not least, milk yield and composition. Rumination is an important and valuable tool that indicates the correctness of these aspects. Many published studies point to the relationship between rumination and health status where early intervention can be made to prevent a reduction in milk yield and consequent negative selection from the breeding stock. Many studies describe rumination as an indicator that forms the basis of the herd on which the very substantial and developing benefits of breeding as well as reproduction itself are built. The rumination-based relationships of heat stress and dairy cow health are also nowadays receiving a great deal of attention in studies. In nowadays also receiving a great deal of attention in studies about relationship not only between rumination - heat stress but also dairy cow health status. Heat stress is characteristically labelled as an unwanted factor that has an adverse effect on dairy cow milk yield.


Acatincăi, S. et al. (2010). Study Regarding Rumination Behavior in Cattle – Position Adopted by Cows During Rumination Process. Animal Science and Biotechnologies, 43(2), 199-202.

Adewuyi, A.A. et al. (2005). Non esterified fatty acids (NEFA) in dairy cattle. A review. Veterinary Quarterly, 27(3), 117-126. doi:

Allen, M.S. (1996). Physical constraints on voluntary intake of forages by ruminants Get access Arrow. Journal of Animal Science, 74(12), 3063-3075. doi:

Antanaitis, R. et al. (2018). Evaluation of rumination time, subsequent yield, and milk trait changes dependent on the period of lactation and reproductive status of dairy cows. Polish journal of veterinary sciences, 21(3), 567–572. doi:

Bar, D., & Solomon, R. (2010). Rumination collars: What can they tell us?. Proc. First. N. Am. Conf. Precision Dairy management, 214-216.

Beauchemin, K.A. (1991). Ingestion and Mastication of Feed by Dairy Cattle. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Food Animal Practice, 7(2), 439-463. doi:

Beauchemin, K.A. et al. (2003). Effects of Particle Size of Alfalfa-Based Dairy Cow Diets on Chewing Acivity, Ruminal Fermentation, and Milk Production. Journal of Dairy Science, 86(2), 630-643. doi:

Beauchemin, K.A., & Yang, W.Z. (2005). Effects of Physically Effective Fiber on Intake, Chewing Activity, and Ruminal Acidosis for Dairy Cows Fed Diets Based on Corn Silage. Journal of Dairy Science, 88(6), 2117-2129. doi:

Beauchemin, K.A. (2018). Invited review: Current perspectives on eating and rumination activity in dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 101(6), 4762-4784. doi:

Becker, C.A. et al. (2020). Invited review: Physiological and behavioral effects of heat stress in dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 103(8), 6751-6770. doi:

Bernabucci, U. et al. (2014). The effects of heat stress in Italian Holstein dairy cattle. Journal of Dairy Science, 97(1), 471-486. doi:

Brandstetter, V. et al. (2019). Chewing and Drinking Activity during Transition Period and Lactation in Dairy Cows Fed Partial Mixed Rations. Animals, 9(12), 1088. doi:

Calamari. L. et al. (2013). Effects of different feeding time and frequency on metabolic conditions and milk production in heat-stressed dairy cows. International Journal of biometeorology, 57(5), 785-796. doi:

Calamari, L. et al. (2014). Rumination time around calving: An early signal to detect cows at greater risk of disease. Journal of Dairy Science, 97(6), 3635-3647. doi:

Clark, J. et al. (2001). Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle 7. ed. National Academies Press.

Cocco, R. et al. (2021). Rumination time as an early predictor of metritis and subclinical ketosis in dairy cows at the beginning of lactation: Systematic review-meta-analysis. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 189, 105309. doi:

Conte, G. et al. (2018). Feeding and nutrition management of heat-stressed dairy ruminants. Italian Journal of Animal Science, 17(3), 604-620. doi:

Cook, J.G. et al. (2021). Association of days in close up, gestation length, and rumination around time of calving with disease and pregnancy outcomes in multiparous dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 104(8), 9093-9105. doi:

Das, R. et al. (2016). Impact of heat stress on health and performance of dairy animals: A review. Vet World, 9(3), 260-268. doi:

DeRensis, F. et al. (2015). Seasonal heat stress: Clinical implications and hormone treatments for the fertility of dairy cows. Theriogenology, 84(5), 659-666. doi:

DeVries, T.J. et al. (2009). Repeated ruminal acidosis challenges in lactating dairy cows at high and low risk for developing acidosis: Feeding, ruminating, and lying behavior. Journal of Dairy Science, 92(10), 5067-5078. doi:

Erickson, P., & Kalscheur, K. (2020). Chapter 9 – Nutrition and feeding of dairy cattle. In Fuller W. B. et al. (Eds.), Animal Agriculture. Sustainability, Challenges and Innovations. Academic Press. (pp. 157-180). doi:

Hanušovský, O. et al. (2015). Continual monitoring of reticulorumenal pH of dairy cows during 45 days. Acta Fytotechnica et Zootechnica, 18(03), 53-55. doi:

Heinrichs, J. (2013). Penn State Particle Separator. PennState Extension.

Hulsen, J. (2011). Cow signals: jak rozumět řeči krav: praktický průvodce pro chovatele dojnic. Profi Press.

Chamberlain, A.T. (1996). Feeding the Dairy Cow. Chalcombe Publications.

Kaufman, E.L. et al. (2016). Association of rumination time with subclinical ketosis in transition dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 99(7), 5604-5618. doi:

Kmicikewycz, A.D. et al. (2015). Effects of corn silage particle size, supplemental hay, and forage-to-concentrate ratio on rumen pH, feed preference, and milk fat profile of dairy cattle. Journal of Dairy Science, 98(7), 4850-4868. doi:

Lindgren, E. (2009). Validation of rumination measurement equipment and the role of rumination in dairy cow time budgets.

Min, L. et al. (2019). Nutritional strategies for alleviating the detrimental effects of heat stress in dairy cows: a review. International Journal of Biometeorology, 63, 1283-1302. doi:

Moretti, R. et al. (2017). Heat stress effects on Holstein dairy cows’ rumination. Animal, 11(12), 2320-2325. doi:

Müschner-Siemens, T. et al. (2020). Daily rumination time of lactating dairy cows under heat stress conditions. Journal of Thermal Biology, 88, 102484. doi:

Nasrollahi, S.M. et al. (2019). Effects of increasing diet fermentability on intake, digestion, rumen fermentation, blood metabolites and milk production of heat-stressed dairy cows. Animal, 13(11), 2527-2535. doi:

Ning, M. et al. (2022). Ketosis Alters Transcriptional Adaptations of Subcutaneous White Adipose Tissue in Holstein Cows during the Transition Period. Animals, 12 (17), 2238. doi:

Paudyal, S. (2021). Using rumination time to manage health and reproduction in dairy cattle: a review. Veterinary Quarterly, 41(1), 292-300. doi:

Pejman, A., & Habib, A.S. (2012). Heat Stress in Dairy Cows (A Review). Zoology, 2(4), 31-37.

Petrovski, K. R. et al. (2022). The Value of ‘Cow Signs’ in the Assessment of the Quality of Nutrition on Dairy Farms. Animals, 12(11), 1352. doi:

Polsky, L., & Keyserlingk, M. A. G. (2017). Invited review: Effects of heat stress on dairy cattle welfare. Journal of Dairy Science, 100(11), 8645-8657. doi:

Ravagnolo, O. et al. (2000). Genetic Component of Heat Stress in Dairy Cattle, Development of Heat Index Function. Journal of Dairy Science, 83(9), 2120-2125. doi:

Ravelo, A.D. et al. (2022). Effects of partially replacing dietary corn with molasses, condensed whey permeate, or treated condensed whey permeate on ruminal microbial fermentation. Journal of Dairy Science, 105(3), 2215-2227. doi:

Reece, W.O., & Rowe, E.W. (2017). Functional Anatomy and Physiology of Domestic Animals (5 Edition). John Wiley & Sons.

Russell, J. B., & Rychlik, J.L. (2001). Factors That Alter Rumen Microbial Ecology. Science, 292(5519), 1119-1122. doi:

Salama, A.A.K. et al. (2014). Different levels of response to heat stress in dairy goats. Small Ruminant Research, 121(1), 73-79. doi:

Salfer, I. J. et al. (2018). The effects of source and concentration of dietary fiber, starch, and fatty acids on the daily patterns of feed intake, rumination, and rumen pH in dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 101(12), 10911-10921. doi:

Shen, W. et al. (2020). Rumination recognition method of dairy cows based on the change of noseband pressure. Information Processing in Africulture, 7(4), 479-790. doi:

Schirmann, K. et al. (2009). Technical note: Validation of a system for monitoring rumination in dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 92(12), 6052-6055. doi:

Schirmann, K. et al. (2012). Rumination and its relationship to feeding and lying behavior in Holstein dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 95(6), 3212-3217. doi:

Schirmann, K. et al. (2016). Short communication: Rumination and feeding behaviors differ between healthy and sick dairy cows during the transition period. Journal of Dairy Science, 99(12), 9917-9924. doi:

Soriani, N. et al. (2013). Rumination time during the summer season and its relationships with metabolic conditions and milk production. Journal of Dairy Science, 96(8), 5082-5094. doi:

Stangaferro, M.L. et al. (2016). Use of rumination and activity monitoring for the identification of dairy cows with health disorders: Part I. Metabolic and digestive disorders. Journal of Dairy Science, 99(9), 7395-7410. doi:

Šimko, M. et al. (2010). Influence of Wheat and Maize Starch on Fermentation in the Rumen, Duodenal Nutrient Flow and Nutrient Digestibility. Acta Veterinaria Brno, 79(4), 533-541. doi:

Šimko, M. et al. (2013). Hodnotenie štruktúry krmív a kŕmnych dávok pre dojnice. Kábrtovy dietetické dny, 288-291.

Tao, S. et al. (2020). Impact of heat stress on lactational performance of dairy cows. Theriogenology, 150, 437-444. doi:

Tucker, C.B. et al. (2021). Invited review: Lying time and the welfare of dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 104(1), 20-46. doi:

Van Saun, R.J. (2022). Nutritional Requirements of Dairy Cattle. MSD Veterinary Manual.

Weiss, W.P. (2022). Encyclopedia of Dairy Sciences. Academic Press.

Welch, J.G. (1982). Rumination, Particle Size and Passage from the Rumen Get access Arrow. Journal of Animal Science, 54(4), 885-894. doi:

West, J.V. et al. (2003). Effects of hot, humid weather on milk temperature, dry matter intake, and milk yield of lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 86(1), 232-242. doi:

White, R.R. et al. (2017). Physically adjusted neutral detergent fiber system for lactating dairy cow rations. I: Deriving equations that identify factors that influence effectiveness of fiber. Journal of Dairy Science, 100(12), 9551-9568. doi:






Animal Science