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Feeding small quantities of grain in the parlour facilitates pre-milking handling of dairy cows: a note

By A. Ceballos, D. M. Weary

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Food rewards are increasingly recognized as a method of training animals to submit to management procedures that might otherwise require aversive handling. The aim of the current study was to determine if feeding small amounts of concentrate in the parlour could improve entrance behaviour. Cows within one milking group received 0, 0.3 or 0.6 kg (n=17 in each treatment) of concentrate per milking in the parlour using a computer controlled feeding system. Cows were observed before and after treatment began, recording order of entry, latency (s) to fully enter the parlour, if the cow needed to be pushed into the parlour and if the cow defecated or urinated while in the milking parlour. Cows receiving feed moved up in the milking order by (mean+or-S.E.) 7.6+or-2.3 positions once the treatment period began. The latency for these cows to enter the parlour was reduced by 1.7+or-0.5 s during treatment, and these cows were 59+or-6% less likely to require being pushed. This latter effect carried over to the control cows that were not fed in the parlour; these cows were 37+or-7% less likely to be pushed during the treatment period. Feeding had no effect on the proportion of animals that defecated or urinated while in the milking parlour. Although feeding had a positive effect on entry into the parlour, the amount of food provided had no effect. Thus, the results of this study indicate that even small quantities of concentrate can act to motivate parlour entry, reducing the need for pushing and other interventions that may have negative effects on the cows.

Date 2002
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 77
Issue 4
Pages 249-254
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(02)00054-0
Language English
Author Address Animal Welfare Program, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of British Columbia, 2357 Main Mall, Vancouver V6T 1Z4, Canada.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal husbandry
  3. Animal rights
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  6. Cattle
  7. Concentrates
  8. Dairy animals
  9. Mammals
  10. milking
  11. peer-reviewed
  12. proteins
  13. Ruminants
  1. peer-reviewed