No one likes a bully, and especially if you have to stand next to one while eating. That was the conclusion of a research study reported in the July Journal of Dairy Science.

Researchers from the United Kingdom and Canada trained dairy cattle to prefer a highly palatable feed consisting of a pelleted grain containing molasses rather than a low palatability feed comprised of rolled barley and soybean meal. Next, they gave the cows a choice between the two feeds. The catch, though, was the highly palatable feed came with a dominant cow while the low palatability feed could be eaten alone.

If cows had only 12 to 18 inches of bunk space, they chose to eat the less-palatable feed alone rather than get bullied by a dominant cow. However, even when they had enough space (24 to 30 inches), some of the subordinate cows still avoided the more-palatable feed because it meant being in close contact with dominant cows.

The researchers conclude that feeding space should be at least 2 feet per cow whenever possible.

For more information, go to “From the President’s Desk —Table for One?” in the Miner Institute’s July 2012 Farm Report. Or, read the research abstract here.