Influence of post-calving regrouping strategy on welfare and performance parameters in dairy heifers

Niamh O'Connell, Hannah Wicks, Alistair Carson, M.A. Mccoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Thirty-six Holstein Friesian heifers (dairy herd replacements) were assigned to one of three regrouping treatments during the post-calving period. In Treatment 1, heifers were introduced individually to an established group of cows and heifers within 24 h of calving ('Single-day 1'). In Treatment 2, heifers were housed individually in a straw pen for I week after calving before being added individually to the group ('Single-day 7'). In Treatment 3, two heifers were housed together in a straw pen for 1 week after calving before being added as a pair to the group ('Pair-day T). The size of the resident group remained constant at 16 animals (10 mature cows and 6 first-lactation heifers). The behaviour of the heifers was assessed during their first 8 h and first month in the resident group, and milk yield parameters, body condition loss and live weight loss were assessed during the first month post-calving. Reproductive performance was assessed during the post-calving period, and hoof health parameters were measured I month prior to calving, and at I and 3 months post-calving. Heifers in the 'Pair-day 7' treatment appeared to associate closely during their first month in the group by spending more time than expected in the same pen area and in adjacent cubicles (P
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-329
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume114
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Animals

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