Stocking density and feed barrier design affect the feeding and social behavior of dairy cattle.
ABSTRACT The objectives of this study were to: 1) evaluate how stocking density at the feed bunk affects feeding and social behavior of dairy cows; and 2) determine if this effect is further influenced by the type of feed barrier used. Thirty-six lactating Holstein cows, allotted to 4 groups, were subjected to each of 4 stocking density treatments and 2 feed barrier treatments. Initially, 2 groups were assigned to a headlock barrier, and 2 groups to a post-and-rail barrier. Each group was then exposed to 4 stocking density treatments (0.81, 0.61, 0.41, and 0.21 m/cow, corresponding to 1.33, 1.00, 0.67, and 0.33 headlocks/cow), in 4 successive 10-d treatment periods. After these periods, the feed barriers were switched between groups and the 4 stocking density treatments were readministered. Time-lapse video was used to quantify feeding, standing, and aggressive behavior at the feed bunk. Daily feeding times were greater and duration of inactive standing in the feeding area was less when using a post-and-rail compared with a headlock feed barrier. Feeding time decreased and inactive standing increased for both barrier designs as stocking density increased at the feed bunk. Cows were displaced more often from the feeding area when the stocking density was increased, and this effect was greater for cows using the post-and-rail feed barrier. Cows ranked lower in the social hierarchy at the feed bunk were displaced more often when feeding at a post-and-rail barrier, particularly at high stocking densities. Therefore, we recommend avoiding overstocking at the feed bunk to increase feeding activity and reduce competition. Use of a barrier that provides some physical separation between adjacent cows, such as a headlock feed barrier, can be used to further reduce competition at the feed bunk.
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ABSTRACT: Thirty-seven pregnant primiparous domestic pigs, Sus scrofa, were introduced into a large indoor pen. The pigs were divided into three groups according to their ability to displace others in agonistic interactions and the behavioural characteristics of these groups were investigated. High Success pigs were able to displace at least as many individuals as displaced them. They were characterized by low levels of inactivity, high involvement in social interactions and high aggression. No Success pigs never displaced any other pig and were most inactive, least aggressive and showed low involvement in social interactions. Low Success pigs were able to displace some pigs but were more often displaced themselves. They were aggressive, despite their relative lack of success, and experienced the highest levels of aggression from and displacement by others. During the first month in the group, High Success pigs gained the most weight. Low Success pigs had the highest basal levels of salivary cortisol and showed the highest peak cortisol levels in response to an adrenocorticotrophic hormone challenge test. At the first parturition, Low Success pigs produced the lowest weight of piglets born alive. Hence there were more adverse effects associated with being aggressive and often displaced than with being aggressive and usually winning, or being unaggressive and involved in few interactions. The strategy used to cope with the social environment may be as important as the success achieved in agonistic interactions, at least in terms of consequences for physiology and reproduction.Animal Behaviour - ANIM BEHAV. 01/1992; 44(6):1107-1121.
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ABSTRACT: Twenty-four lactating Holstein cows were used in a replicated 6 x 6 Latin square design. Experimental periods were 6 or 7 d. Cows were housed in tie-stalls, and diets were fed ad libitum twice daily at 1100 and 1600 h. Diets contained 60% concentrate and either 40% alfalfa hay or 20% alfalfa hay and 20% alfalfa silage (dry matter basis). The effect of quantity, quality, and length of hay on sorting behavior was determined. Treatments consisted of 20% lower or higher quality long alfalfa hay, 20% lower or higher quality chopped alfalfa hay, and 40% lower or higher quality chopped alfalfa hay. Variation of sorting among cows was also determined. Particle size distribution of samples of as-fed total mixed rations and orts were determined using the Wisconsin particle size separator. Screens have square holes with diagonals of 26.9, 18, 8.98, 5.61, and 1.65 mm (screens Y1 to Y5, respectively). Sorting was calculated as the actual intake of each fraction expressed as a percentage ofthe predicted intake. Increasing the proportion of dry hay increased sorting. Quality of alfalfa hays that were offered did not affect sorting activity. Feeding long alfalfa hay increased selective consumption of fine particles. However, feeding long alfalfa hay also increased intake of longer particles because a higher percentage of long particles was offered. Across treatments, animals consistently sorted against longer particles in favor of finer particles. In particular, intake of Y1 as a percentage of the predicted intake was the most variable. Average Y1 intake, across the six treatments for each cow, was between 60 and 70% of predicted intake for four cows, 71 to 80% for 11 cows, 81 to 90% for five cows, 91 to 100% for two cows, and 101 to 110% for two cows. On one diet a cow failed to consume any of the Y1 portion of the total mixed ration. This variation among animals in sorting of very long feed particles may have practical significance.Journal of Dairy Science 03/2003; 86(2):557-64. · 2.57 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The objective of this experiment was to determine whether it is the return from milking or delivery of fresh feed that has the greater effect on the daily patterns of feeding and lying behavior of dairy cattle. Forty-eight lactating Holstein cows were subjected to each of 2 treatments in a 2 x 2 cross-over design replicated over time. The treatments were 1) milking and feed delivery times coinciding and 2) feed delivery 6 h after milking. Cows were milked twice daily at 0500 and 1700 h. An electronic monitoring system was used to measure the time spent at the feed alley. Time-lapse video was used to quantify the lying time and incidence of aggressive displacements of the cows at the feed alley. Cows increased their total daily feeding time by 12.5% when fed 6 h after milking. This change was driven by an 82% increase in feeding time during the first hour immediately following the delivery of fresh feed and a 26% decrease in feeding time during the first hour after milking. The delivery of feed 6 h after milking did not change the daily lying time of the cows, but did decrease the latency to lie down after milking by 20 min. The reduction in feeding time after milking and decreased latency to lie down resulted in a tendency for less aggressive interactions at the feed alley after the cows returned from milking. These results indicate that the delivery of fresh feed has a greater impact on stimulating feeding behavior than does the return from milking and that changes in feeding management can affect both the feeding and lying behavior of dairy cows.Journal of Dairy Science 03/2005; 88(2):625-31. · 2.57 Impact Factor