Impact of relocation on dairy cows
Wilkes, Crafton O
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Several indicators of animal welfare were measured to determine the impact of relocation on lactating dairy cows. In experiment one, locomotion was scored on a 4-point scale where 1 = normal and 4 = lame. Cleanliness was scored on a 4-point scale where 1 = little or no manure visible and 4 = heavy plaques of manure on 3 body regions: udder, lower leg, and flank/upper leg. In experiment two, milking parlor behaviors observed were cow reactivity (REACT), latency to enter the parlor (LAT), and plasma cortisol (CORT). REACT was evaluated on a numeric scale (0 = ideal milker to 3 = steps and kicks frequently) to define behavior during udder preparation, claw fitting, and milking. LAT was the time necessary for each cow to enter the milking parlor. In these studies, the effects of treatment or breed on MY, lameness, parlor behaviors, stress, and cow cleanliness were monitored. In experiment one, cows with access to a rubber mat in front of the feed bunk had lower locomotion scores and cleaner lower legs. There were no breed effects on locomotion, but Jerseys had cleaner lower legs than Holsteins. The effect of the new facility on locomotion occurred gradually. Cows with higher locomotion scores had decreased milk production, but the results were not significant. In experiment two, relocation caused an increase in plasma cortisol and LAT. Milk yield decreased the p.m. on the day of relocation, but overall milk yield was not affected. Jerseys had lower plasma cortisol levels and latency to enter the parlor, but had a greater decline in p.m. milk yield the day of relocation. In conclusion, alternative flooring may alleviate some locomotion problems caused by relocation to a new facility. Additionally, moving to a new facility may have an effect on behavior and stress, but these effects are short-lived and effects on overall milk production minimal.
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