Abstract Two total mixed rations (TMR) containing different proportions of roughage neutral detergent fiber (NDF) were fed to lactating cows under Israeli summer conditions, and the effects on feeding behavior and milk production were measured. Forty-two lactating cows were divided into 2 groups fed ad libitum a TMR containing either 18% NDF of roughage origin (control group) or only 12% roughage NDF, in which the corn silage component (16.5% of dry matter [DM]) was replaced with soy hulls (experiment group). This and additional adjustments in TMR were reflected in higher net energy for lactation and in vitro digestibility of the experimental TMR. Cow behavior was investigated at the feeding lane during June 2001; about 11,000 cow visits were analyzed. Feed intake per meal and average meal duration were significantly higher in the experiment group (1.51kg of DM per meal and 12.1min per meal, respectively) as compared with the control group (1.22kg of DM per meal and 9.47min per meal, respectively). However, number of meals per day recorded in the feeding lane was significantly higher in the control group (21.0 vs. 16.6 meals/d per cow). Distribution of meals and feed intake along the day depended more on management practices, such as milking and feed dispensing times, than on feed composition or weather conditions. These differences between groups were expressed in similar daily eating duration (∼200min), and because the rate of feed consumption was similar for both treatments (∼127g DM/min), the daily average DM intake was also similar (25.0 to 25.7kg). However, NDF intake was higher in the experiment group. Consequently, the average milk yield was higher in the experimental group, and production of milk fat, 4% fat-corrected milk, and economically corrected milk were significantly higher in the experiment group than in the control group. Data imply that the experimental TMR containing only 12% NDF of roughage origin is more suitable for cows under hot climate conditions compared with the control TMR.