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Resting and social behaviour of dairy heifers housed in slatted floor pens with different sized bedded lying areas

By L. H. Nielsen, L. Mogensen, C. Krohn, J. Hindhede, J. T. Sorensen

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The hypothesis that an increase in the straw bedded resting area for group housed heifers would increase synchronization of resting behaviour and decrease aggressive and abnormal behaviour was tested. An experiment was conducted on 2 Danish commercial dairy farms with 20 Danish Friesian heifers (approximately 400 kg) from November 1994 to April 1995. The experimental pens were constructed on existing slatted floor and contained a total area of 27 msuperscript 2/pen with 5 heifers/pen. Three sizes of lying area (1.8, 2.7 and 3.6 msuperscript 2/heifer) bedded with straw were established in each pen for 3 consecutive periods of 5 weeks. Resting and social behaviour were recorded using direct observations for 24 h at the end of each 5-week treatment period. The synchronization of resting behaviour was reduced when the heifers were offered 1.8 msuperscript 2 bedded lying area/heifer compared with 2.7 or 3.6 msuperscript 2/heifer, and the heifers were more aggressive, as more butting and forcing another heifer to stand up were seen. The frequency of leaning against other heifers was highest at the lowest space allowance in the bedded area. It is concluded that increasing the resting area from 1.8 msuperscript 2 to 2.7 or 3.6 msuperscript 2/heifer improves the welfare of group housed dairy heifers.

Date 1997
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 54
Issue 4
Pages 307-316
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(96)01211-7
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Health and Welfare, Danish Institute of Animal Science, Research Centre Foulum, P.O. Box 39, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark.
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Abnormal behavior
  2. Aggression
  3. Agonistic behavior
  4. Animal behavior
  5. Animal rights
  6. Animal roles
  7. Animal welfare
  8. Arthropods
  9. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  10. Butterflies and moths
  11. Cattle
  12. Dairy animals
  13. Denmark
  14. Developed countries
  15. Deviant behavior
  16. Europe
  17. Floors
  18. Food animals
  19. Insects
  20. Invertebrates
  21. Mammals
  22. OECD countries
  23. Ruminants
  24. Scandinavia
  25. Social behavior
  26. Straw