Twelve dairy cows were placed in a stimuli-rich environment, a 'dairy cow park', for 2.5 years. The 'park' consisted of an extensive barn with deep bedding, a yard and a pasture. The cows were milked and fed twice a day in the barn, but had free access to the whole area at all times. During the experiment the cows were observed 2-6 days each month, and their preference for being indoors or outdoors, for standing or lying, eating mixed rations or grass, their daily walking distance and synchronization of lying behaviour, were recorded. During summer the cows spent 17.2 h outdoors each day, mostly at pasture; in winter they only spent 4.8 h outdoors each day. With the exception of frosty days, the cows frequently spent 1-3 h outdoors on winter nights. On frosty days they remained indoors all day. The cows lay indoors on deep bedding only in winter, while in summer they mainly preferred to lie out on pasture. During winter the cows ate mixed rations for 2.2 h and grass for about 0.7 h/day, and during summer, 1.3 h and 4 h, respectively. Time spent eating mixed rations was not correlated with rank order. The lying behaviour was more synchronized at pasture than in the tie stall. The synchronization on deep bedding was intermediate. During summer, the cows walked 2.5 km (SD 0.6 km) daily and spent most of the nights at pasture. The daily walking distance was 0.8 km (SD 0.6 km) during winter. Except for frosty days when cows remained indoors, the weather within a month had no significant effect on the walking distance.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||National Institute of Animal Science, Department of Research in Cattle and Sheep, Foulum, Tjele, Denmark.|
|Cite this work||
Researchers should cite this work as follows: