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.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|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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