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The effect of deep straw versus cubicle housing on behaviour during the dry period in Holstein cows
- Campler, Magnus R., Jensen, Margit Bak, Munksgaard, Lene
- Applied animal behaviour science 2018 v.209 pp. 1-7
- Holstein, accelerometers, agonistic behavior, animal behavior, automation, bins (containers), calving, cows, feed intake, feeding behavior, heifers, observational studies, straw
- The present observational study assessed the effect of deep straw bedding compared to cubicles during the dry period on lying-, feeding- and agonistic behaviour in Holstein cows. A total of 74 primi- (heifers) and multiparous cows were moved either onto deep straw bedding (DS) or into cubicle housing (CS) 4 wk before the expected calving date and were observed for 21 consecutive days. Throughout the 21 d lying time and the number of lying bouts were recorded using automated accelerometers while feeding time, the number of feeder visits and feed intake was recorded using automatic feed bins. All variables were averaged by week. The transition time from lying to standing was obtained by averaging five randomly selected standing up events on d 7 prior to the actual calving date while the number of failed standing attempts was obtained by following the cows standing up bouts throughout all of d 7 prior to the actual calving date. The frequency of agonistic behaviour was obtained from 7 h of continuous video recordings on d 21 and 7 (or 8) before the actual calving date. Lying time was not affected by treatment but DS cows had a higher number of lying bouts and a shorter transition time between lying and standing compared to CS cows. Primiparous cows had a higher number of lying bouts compared to multiparous cows. There were no treatment differences in feeding behaviour but multiparous cows spent more time feeding and increased their feed intake more across weeks compared to primiparous cows. Cows housed in DS initiated more agonistic behaviour compared to CS cows at d 7 (or 8) before calving while no difference between treatments was seen at 21 d before calving. These results suggest that deep straw bedding facilitates the transition between lying and standing but may increase agonistic behaviour.