CZAAWE Resource Article

Effects of space allowance in the waiting area on agonistic interactions and heart rate of high and low ranking horned dairy cows
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Livestock Science
One possible alternative to avoid the disbudding of calves is to keep the cows horned. This, however, requires adapted housing conditions. An important aspect to reduce agonistic interactions that may lead to injuries is to provide appropriate space allowances in all parts of the stable. This study investigated the influence of three different space allowances in the waiting area of the milking parlour (4.0, 2.5, 1.7 m(2)/cow) on the risk of injury and stress. In a research herd of 85-87 horned dairy cows, heart rate and number of physical agonistic interactions ("butting" and "being butted") per cow and hour during waiting were recorded in nine lower and nine higher ranking focal cows. Furthermore, heart rate in the milking parlour and the number of flinches, steps and kicks per cow and minute ("FSK-reponses") in eight to nine lower and 11 higher ranking focal cows were collected. Results showed that social rank had no influence on heart rate and FSK. being butted (p=0.029), FSK-responses (p=0.002) and heart rates in the waiting area and parlour (p=0.000) were significantly affected by space allowance, the lowest space allowance of 1.7 m(2) per cow resulted in Higher values, although for heart rates there were significant interaction effects with time of day (morning or afternoon milking) (p=0.021 to p=0.000): Less clear Results and generally Higher values were found in the afternoon, in terms of animal welfare, a larger space allowance than 1.7 m(2)/cow in the waiting area appears beneficial, under the conditions investigated, except for FSK-responses, no consistent benefit could be detected by providing 4.0 m(2)/cow instead of 2.5 m(2)/cow. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.