Associations between lying behavior and lameness in Canadian Holstein-Friesian cows housed in freestall barns

By Barkema, H. W. and de Passille, A. M. and Haley, D. B. and LeBlanc, S. J. and Mason, S. and Nash, C. G. and Orsel, K. and Pajor, E. A. and Pellerin, D. and Rushen, J. and Solano, L. and Vasseur, E., J Dairy Sci, 2016
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Lying behavior is an important measure of comfort and well-being in dairy cattle, and changes in lying behavior are potential indicators and predictors of lameness. Our objectives were to determine individual and herd-level risk factors associated with measures of lying behavior, and to evaluate whether automated measures of lying behavior can be used to detect lameness. A purposive sample of 40 Holstein cows was selected from each of 141 dairy farms in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. Lying behavior of 5,135 cows between 10 and 120 d in milk was automatically and continuously recorded using accelerometers over 4 d. Data on factors hypothesized to influence lying behavior were collected, including information on individual cows, management practices, and facility design. Associations between predictor variables and measures of lying behavior were assessed using generalized linear mixed models, including farm and province as random and fixed effects, respectively. Logistic regression models were used to determine whether lying behavior was associated with lameness. At the cow-level, daily lying time increased with increasing days in milk, but this effect interacted with parity; primiparous cows had more frequent but shorter lying bouts in early lactation, changing to mature-cow patterns of lying behavior (fewer and longer lying bouts) in late lactation. In barns with stall curbs >22 cm high, the use of sand or >2 cm of bedding was associated with an increased average daily lying time of 1.44 and 0.06 h/d, respectively. Feed alleys >/= 350 cm wide or stalls >/= 114 cm wide were associated with increased daily lying time of 0.39 and 0.33 h/d, respectively, whereas rubber flooring in the feed alley was associated with 0.47 h/d lower average lying time. Lame cows had longer lying times, with fewer, longer, and more variable duration of bouts compared with nonlame cows. In that regard, cows with lying time >/= 14 h/d, /= 110 min/bout, or standard deviations of bout duration over 4 d >/= 70 min had 3.7, 1.7, 2.5, and 3.0 higher odds of being lame, respectively. Factors related to comfort of lying and standing surfaces significantly affected lying behavior. Finally, we inferred that automated measures of lying behavior could contribute to lameness detection, especially when interpreted in the context of other factors known to affect lying behavior, including those associated with the individual cow (e.g., parity and stage of lactation) or environment (e.g., stall surface).
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