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Behaviour and claw health in tied dairy cows with varying access to exercise in an outdoor paddock

By J. Loberg, E. Telezhenko, C. Bergsten, L. Lidfors

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The aim of this study was to compare the effect of different access to an exercise area on behaviour, time to lie down, claw conformation, claw lesions and milk production. The study was carried out on an organic dairy farm with 52 tied cows. The cows were randomly assigned to one of four treatments, with 13 cows in each group, and matched according to lactation number, milk production and whether or not they were de-horned. The treatments were: exercise every day (E7), exercise two days per week (E2), exercise one day per week (E1) or no exercise (NoE). Exercised cows were brought to one of two outdoor paddocks for 1 h. Observations of behaviour were made using one-zero sampling during the 1 h exercise, twice per month and treatment, during the six months of winter housing (780 min per group in total). Treatment NoE was observed in their stalls during the same time as the other treatments were exercised. The duration of the two phases of the lying down movement was recorded four times per cow. Claw traits were recorded at trimming at the beginning and the end of the six month study period. The farm measured the individual milk yield one day per month. There was an increase in the mean percentage of walking and trotting with decreasing access to exercise. Cows in the E1 and E2 treatment explored the environment more than cows in the E7 treatment. The wear of the claws during the winter was greater for the exercised cows compared to NoE and resulted in shorter claws at spring trimming. There was no difference in the duration of lying down movements for different treatments, nor a difference in milk production. These results shows that adult dairy cows used the time to walk, trot and explore the environment when given access to an outdoor paddock, and that exercise had a positive effect on the claw conformation.

Date 2004
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 89
Issue 1/2
Pages 1-16
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Environment and Health, Section of Ethology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, P.O. Box 234, SE-532 23 Skara, Sweden.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal housing
  3. Animal husbandry
  4. Animal physiology
  5. Animal rights
  6. Animal welfare
  7. Cattle
  8. Claw
  9. Dairy animals
  10. Developed countries
  11. Europe
  12. Exercise
  13. Farms
  14. Lactation
  15. Mammals
  16. Milk and dairy products
  17. OECD countries
  18. paddocks
  19. peer-reviewed
  20. physical activity
  21. Scandinavia
  22. seasons
  23. Sweden
  24. tethering
  1. peer-reviewed