Animal health and welfare state and technical efficiency of dairy farms: possible synergies

This study sought to investigate whether animal health and welfare state and changes were associated with technical efficiency in a sample of 34 Austrian dairy farms. Health and welfare were assessed twice using the Welfare Quality® (WQ) assessment protocol for dairy cattle. Following a baseline welfare assessment, farm-specific health and welfare planning was conducted on […]

Eye white may indicate emotional state on a frustration-contentedness axis in dairy cows

Research on welfare indicators has focused primarily on indicators of poor welfare, but there is also a need for indicators that can cover the range from good to poor welfare. The aim of this experiment was to compare behaviour elements in dairy cows shown in response to a frustrating situation as well as elements shown […]

Social licking in dairy cattle—Effects on heart rate in performers and receivers

Using heart rate (HR) measurements we investigated whether potential calming effects of social licking were evident for both active (performers) and passive (receivers) licking partners. A HR decline was assumed to indicate relaxation and thus the experience of positive emotions. Effects of the licking category (spontaneous, solicited), the animals’ basic activity (standing, lying) and the […]

Choice of scan-sampling intervals—An example with quantifying neighbours in dairy cows

To date, only a few studies using scan-sampling intervals to record neighbours in groups of animals explain how the interval length was chosen. In this study, we investigated the effects of different scan-sampling intervals, behavioural context, and the definition of neighbours on the accuracy of data as compared to a quasi-continuous observation. The data was […]

Quantifying walking and standing behaviour of dairy cows using a moving average based on output from an accelerometer

Manual observations either directly or by analysis of video recordings of dairy cow behaviour in loose housing systems are costly. Therefore progress could be made if reliable estimates of duration of walking and standing could be based on automatic recordings. In this study we developed algorithms for the detection of walking and standing in dairy […]

Behavioural predictors of the start of normal and dystocic calving in dairy cows and heifers

The individual monitoring of dairy cows around the time of calving is important to identify calving difficulties or health problems as early as possible. This study aims to identify whether there are differences in the behaviour before calving, between heifers and cows, and between those that are assisted at calving and those that are not. […]

Responses of dairy heifers to the visual cliff formed by a herringbone milking pit: Evidence of fear of heights in cows (Bos taurus)

The ability of cows (Bos taurus) to perceive depth has never been experimentally investigated. If cows can perceive depth, the milking pit in commercial milking facilities may be fear provoking for dairy cows, as past research has shown that most land-dwelling species possess an instinctive fear of heights. In the current study, 12 dairy heifers […]

Farm managers underestimate lameness prevalence in Czech dairy herds

Lameness is one of the most serious health and welfare problems faced by dairy cattle. The aim of this study was to assess how aware Czech farm managers were of this problem. The project was carried out on 14 Czech dairy farms. The proportion of lame cows observed (ie prevalence of moderate and severe lameness) […]

On-farm assessment of the effect of management and housing type on behaviour and welfare in dairy cattle

There is a trend toward increasing intensification in dairy farming in the United Kingdom. In particular, there is concern over systems in which cows are housed throughout the year, as the behavioural restriction implicit in these systems is associated with poor welfare in other species. The aim of this on-going project is to determine how […]

Breeding and animal welfare: practical and theoretical advantages of multi-trait selection

The traditional concerns about farm animal welfare have centred around the impact of intensive environments and management practices on the animal. This emphasis on the physical environment is changing, however, with greater consideration being given to animal factors and in particular to the selective breeding of farm animals. In this paper we use examples from […]