Study results from K. Odriscoll et al provide new insights into dairy science & technology
2009 JAN 15 - (VerticalNews.com) -- "The study investigated differences in behavior synchrony of dairy cows during the winter confinement period when managed in 1 of 3 out-wintering pad (OWP) systems, or indoors in free-stall housing. There were 2 replicates of each treatment, and observations were carried out on 3 recording occasions in January and February 2006," scientists in Fermoy, Ireland report.
"On each recording occasion, behavior was recorded every 30 min between 0600 and 0130 h the following day (n = 40). The outcomes for measurement were eligible cows lying (ECL), cow comfort index (CCI), and proportion of animals feeding (AF). Autocorrelation as an indicator of synchrony was calculated using the Durban-Watson statistic and compared across treatments. A centered moving average was calculated, used to obtain the residual, and compared between treatments. Low autocorrelations were recorded in free stalls (39.6 +/- 0.1%), indicating lower temporal behavioral synchrony than in the 3 OWP designs. Overall, the greatest proportion of ECL, CCI, and AF occurred in free stalls (60%). However, high proportions (> 90%) of ECL were recorded on OWP in the early morning, whereas the range of ECL in free stalls (22 to 87%) was lower. The low overall proportions for ECL (44, 52, and 54%) and CCI (48, 55, and 58%) in the OWP were caused by the cows standing without feeding during daylight hours. Nevertheless, these cows performed more synchronized lying at night, and their behavior was more highly autocorrelated (65.9 +/- 0.1, 73.3 +/- 0.1, and 52.3 +/- 0.1%) than cows in free stalls. Synchrony of behavior is part of the normal behavior repertoire of herd-living animals such as dairy cattle, and OWP may promote a more natural circadian behavior pattern than do free-stall systems. It is important that indices such as CCI and ECL are utilized at appropriate times of the day, when cows are expected to lie; that is, during the evening time," wrote K. Odriscoll and colleagues.
The researchers concluded: "Estimated acceptable levels of these indices may be dependent on the confinement system employed."
Odriscoll and colleagues published their study in the Journal of Dairy Science (The Effect of Out-Wintering Pad Design on the Synchrony of Dairy Cow Behavior. Journal of Dairy Science, 2008;91(12):4651-4660).
For additional information, contact K. Odriscoll, Moorepark Dairy Prod Research Center, Fermoy, Cork, Ireland.
The publisher's contact information for the Journal of Dairy Science is: American Dairy Science Association, 1111 N Dunlap Avenue, Savoy, IL 61874, USA.
Keywords: Dairy Science.
This article was prepared by VerticalNews Agriculture editors from staff and other reports. Copyright 2009, VerticalNews Agriculture via VerticalNews.com.