The optimal utilization of forages is crucial in cattle production, especially in organic dairy systems that encourage forage-based feeding with limited concentrate amounts. Reduction of the particle size of forages is known to improve feed intake and thus might be a viable option to help cows cope with less nutrient-dense feeds. The main aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of reducing forage particle size with a geometric mean of 52 mm (conventional particle size; CON) to 7 mm (reduced particle size; RED) in a high-forage diet (80% of dry matter) on dairy cows" sorting behavior, feed intake, chewing activity, and performance as well as on total-tract nutrient digestibility. Both diets (CON and RED) consisted of 43% grass hay, 37% clover-grass silage, and 20% concentrate and contained roughly 44% NDF, 15% CP, and 0.5% starch (dry matter basis). For CON, particle size was set by mixing all components for 20 min in a vertical feed mixer. The RED diet was treated the same, but before the mixer was filled, forages were chopped (theoretical length of cut = 0.5 cm) and the hay was hammer-milled (sieve size = 2 cm). Four primiparous and 16 multiparous mid-lactating dairy cows were assigned according to milk yield, body weight (BW), days in milk, and parity into 2 groups and fed 1 of the 2 diets for 34 d. The first 13 d were used for diet adaption, followed by data collection of nutrient intake, chewing activity, sorting behavior, milk production, and nutrient digestibility for the last 21 d of the experiment. Seven days before the start of the experiment, data on BW, dry matter intake (DMI), chewing activity, sorting behavior, and milk production were collected for use as covariates. Results showed that the RED diet improved DMI (+1.8 kg/d) and NDF intake (+0.46 kg/d) but decreased intake of physically effective NDF >8 (-3.25 kg/d). The RED-fed cows increased their intake of smaller particles (<19 mm), whereas CON-fed cows sorted for long particles (>19 mm). The RED cows reduced eating and ruminating time per kilogram of DMI by 4.8 and 1.9 min, respectively, suggesting lower mastication efforts. In addition, the RED diet significantly increased apparent total-tract digestibility of nutrients. As a consequence, RED cows" energy-corrected milk yield was higher (27.0 vs. 29.3 kg/d) without affecting milk solids, cow BW, or feed efficiency. In conclusion, the data support a reduction of forage particle size in high-forage diets as a measure to improve energy intake, performance, and hence forage utilization under these feeding conditions.