Brisket Boards Reduce Freestall Use

By Tucker, C. B. and Weary, D. M. and Zdanowicz, G., J Dairy Sci, 2006
We examined how the presence of a brisket board influenced cow preference, stall use, and position within the stall. When given a choice between stalls with or without a brisket board, 15 nonlactating cows spent 68% of their time lying in the stalls without a brisket board, indicating that they preferred this option. When 13 cows had access to either stalls with a brisket board or ones without, they spent, on average, 1.2 h/d more time lying down in stalls without a brisket board. Resting cows positioned themselves relatively forward in the stalls in 98 {+/-} 5% (mean {+/-} SE) of lying bouts when the brisket board was absent, compared with 67 {+/-} 5% of bouts when the board was present. Longer cows were more likely than shorter cows to move forward in the stalls without a brisket board. Cows also had longer lying bouts in stalls without the brisket board (absent: 1.7 {+/-} 0.08; present: 1.5 {+/-} 0.08 h/bout). Although it seems likely that the brisket board helps keep stalls clean by positioning cows closer to the curb, our results indicate that brisket boards also make stalls less comfortable for cows. Stall features designed to reduce stall maintenance may compromise cow comfort. We suggest that new approaches to cow housing are now required.
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