Lying patterns of high producing healthy dairy cows after calving in commercial herds as affected by age, environmental conditions and production

By Antler, Aharon and Bahr, Claudia and Berckmans, Daniel and Halachmi, Ilan and Maltz, Ephraim and Steensels, Machteld, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 2012
An animal expresses its physiological and well-being status by its behaviour. Changes in behaviour can be associated with health, production or well-being problems and therefore with the profitability of the farm. The objectives of the present study were to analyse lying patterns of healthy cows, collected with a commercial behaviour sensor, in early lactation in relation to environmental conditions, age of the cow and production performance. In future, these results may be used as a ‘baseline’ for detection of alterations in behaviour that indicate health problems. The study involved 210 healthy multiparous Israeli Holstein cows in three commercial dairy farms. Only healthy cows during the first 28 days after calving were included in this study. Data were analysed in relation to calving season, age of cows and correlation between milk production and lying time. The results show that lying time increased significantly with age and is significantly (P < 0.05) higher in winter than in summer (summer lactation 2: 491 ± 17 min/day (mean ± SD), summer lactation 3 and more: 520 ± 25 min/day, winter lactation 2: 531 ± 25 min/day, winter lactation 3 and more: 579 ± 38 min/day). The proportion of positively and negatively milk production and lying time correlated cows is affected by calving season. This study indicates that behaviour variables in early lactation are affected by calving season, lactation number and type of correlation between milk production and lying time.
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