Relationships between lameness and feeding behaviour in cubicle-housed Holstein-Friesian dairy cows

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Abstract

The relationship between lameness and feeding behaviour in dairy cows is not yet fully understood. This study examined the effect of lameness on feeding behaviour at two points during lactation. Forty-five Holstein–Friesian dairy cows (average parity 3.3) were housed in cubicle accommodation after calving and fed a total mixed ration (TMR). At approximately 60 and 120 days post partum, 48 h of information on feeding behaviour (including number of meals eaten, meal duration, meal size and feeding rate) was collected for each animal using feed boxes fitted to a data recording system. At the same time points, locomotion scores were recorded for each cow as a measure of lameness (1.0-sound to 4.5-severely lame). Relationships between feeding behaviour and locomotion score were analysed using Residual Maximum Likelihood (REML) analysis. At both time points, cows with higher locomotion scores ate fewer (P < 0.001), larger meals (P < 0.001) and had a shorter total feeding time (P < 0.001). At day 60 post partum, an increase in locomotion score was associated with a decrease in dry matter intake (P < 0.05), but at day 120 post partum no relationship was found between locomotion score and DMI. No relationship was found at either time point between locomotion score and mean meal duration or rate of feeding. The results of this study suggest that the effect of lameness on feeding behaviour in dairy cows does not remain constant across lactation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-127
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume140
Issue number3-4
Early online date29 Jun 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Animals

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