Pasture dairy cattle lying position and rising behaviour
MetadataShow full item record
More and more dairy cattle are housed year-round indoors, mostly in cubicle housing systems, however, pasture provides certain health and behavioral benefits for cows. In cubicle housing systems, cows are restricted in their abilities to choose their own lying position and when they get up, the neck rail makes it impossible to make a step forward. Nowadays the free range housing systems, which may combine the advantages of the pasture and the cubicle housing systems, are getting more popular. Cattle spend more than half their lives lying down when kept in the pasture, but when cow-lying-time is reduced, stress and health risks are threatening. Because lying time is so important, the goal of this study was to determine how dairy cattle in the pasture lie in relation to each other and how they stand up. It is an argument to change the housing system, if this behaviour is not possible in cubicle housing systems. The aim of this study is to determine how cows are positioned in relation to each other when lying in the pasture; looking at whether the cows lie with their cranial sides together or not and determining at which angle the body axis of the cows are. The second aim of this study, is to see if cows make a step forward during or directly after rising or not. The data collection was done in Uruguay on a pasture based dairy farm. Four herds were observed for this study for a period of 5 weeks and 1520 observations were made. Observations where done with bare eyes and the help of binoculars. Cows lie more often (61,8%) with their cranial sides away from each other than towards each other (P<0,00006), and more often with their body axis in line (59,5%) (P<0,00006) than at an angle. In 73,7% of the cases (with P<0,000 and with a 95% confidence interval of 0,685 to 0,789), cows make one or more steps forward after rising. The fact that cows lie more often with their cranial sides away from each other and that they make a step forward during rising in 73,7 % of the cases, shows that the cubicle housing systems are not suitable for these observed behaviours. But knowing that cows on pasture position their body axis in line in 59,5 % of the observations, the cubicle housing system does not impede this behaviour in most of the cases.