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Effects of the inclination of the lying area in cubicles on the behaviour and dirtiness of fattening bulls

By H. S. Westerath, T. Meier, L. Gygax, B. Wechsler, C. Mayer

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Abstract

The aim of the study was to determine the optimal inclination of the lying area in cubicles for fattening bulls, taking into account the behaviour and dirtiness of the animals, as well as the dirtiness of the lying area. The inclination of the lying area was varied experimentally (3, 5, 8 and 10%), and three soft lying mats differing in surface texture were tested. In a balanced order, 20 finishing bulls housed in four groups were kept sequentially in pens with all inclination/mat combinations, and observed on three consecutive days. In each experimental condition, the duration of lying was recorded automatically over 72 h by means of distance sensors placed above the cubicles. The quality of standing-up and lying-down behaviour was recorded by direct observations on 3 days. Additionally, the dirtiness of the animals and the lying area were rated once and twice a day, respectively. Data were analysed using mixed-effects models and logistic regression. The steeper the lying area, the more lying bouts were recorded (p<0.001). With two of the three soft lying mats, the time spent lying per day was reduced as inclination increased (inclination/mat-type interaction, p<0.01). With increasing inclination, the animals also stood up more often with more than one head lunge (p<0.05), showed more stepping with the fore legs (p<0.05) and more investigative head sweeps (p<0.05) before lying down, and the frequency of slipping with fore and hind legs increased (p<0.001). Falling while in the process of lying down or standing up was only observed with inclinations of 8 and 10

Date 2006
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 97
Issue 2/4
Pages 122-133
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Swiss Federal Veterinary Office, Centre for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs, Swiss Federal Research Station for Agricultural Economics and Engineering, CH-8356 Ettenhausen, Switzerland. lorenz.gygax@fat.admin.ch
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal housing
  3. Animal husbandry
  4. Animal nutrition
  5. Bulls
  6. Cattle
  7. Cubicles
  8. Fat
  9. Finishing
  10. Hygiene
  11. Mammals
  12. peer-reviewed
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  1. peer-reviewed