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Behaviour of dairy cows kept in extensive (loose housing/pasture) or intensive (tie stall) environments. III. Grooming, exploration and abnormal behaviour

By C. C. Krohn

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24 pairs of monozygotic twin dairy cows (Danish Friesian and Red Danish) were assigned to 4 groups of 12 in a balanced incomplete-block design. Group E: loose housing; ad lib. access to feeding table; deep bedding; a yard and pasture; and milking twice a day. Group N: tie stall; concrete floor plus 1 kg straw; milking twice a day; and no exercise. Group I: tie-stall; rubber mats plus 2 kg straw; milking 4 times a day; and no exercise. Group IE: as group I, except for 1 h daily exercise. The aim of this experiment was to compare allo- and self-grooming, exploration and abnormal behaviour (bar-biting, tongue-rolling, leaning) in an extensive environment and in tie-stalls, and to compare the behaviour in tie-stalls with and without the possibility of daily exercise. The total frequencies of social sniffing and licking were lower in group E compared with the tethered groups. Within the tethered groups, the frequencies of sniffing and licking were significantly lower in group IE. The frequency of self-grooming was lower in group E than in the 3 tethered groups. In cows of all groups, licking of the back and sides of the body constituted 40-45% of all grooming behaviour. When tethered, the cows directed only 30-32% of all licking behaviour against the hindquarters, where this behaviour pattern increased to 56% in the yard (group IE). The frequencies of all types of exploratory behaviours (sniffing and licking the equipment or the ground) were 2-3 times higher in the tie-stall than in loose housing systems. In group IE, sniffing the equipment and the ground was twice as high per h in the yard than in the stable, while the frequency of licking the equipment was >5 times higher in the yard. The frequency of leaning against equipment was higher in the tie-stall than in group E and performed by 57-64% of the cows in the tie-stall. Permanent tethering of dairy cows seems to change the normal activity pattern and increase leaning behaviour. Daily exercise in a yard increased the frequencies of normal social behaviour, self-grooming and investigative behaviour, and decreased bar-biting, and therefore indicates some deprivation in permanently tethered cows.

Date 1994
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 42
Issue 2
Pages 73-86
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address National Institute of Animal Science, Department of Research in Cattle and Sheep, Research Centre, Foulum, P.O. Box 39, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Abnormal behavior
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal housing
  4. Animal rights
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Cattle
  7. Dairy animals
  8. Denmark
  9. Developed countries
  10. Deviant behavior
  11. Europe
  12. Exercise
  13. Exploration
  14. Farms
  15. Grooming
  16. Housing
  17. Mammals
  18. OECD countries
  19. physical activity
  20. Physical environment
  21. Scandinavia
  22. Social behavior
  23. stalls