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The relationship between responsiveness of first-lactation heifers to humans and the behavioral response to milking and milk production measures

By M. A. Sutherland, S. K. Dowling

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Abstract

The human-animal relationship can influence how an animal responds to situations involving humans and affect animal well-being and production. The objectives of this research were to (1) determine if there is a relationship between the behavioral reactivity of New Zealand dairy heifers toward humans and the behavioral response to cluster placement during milking and milk production measures and (2) determine if this relationship changes as heifers become habituated to the milking process. A total of 150 primiparous heifers were randomly selected from 3 commercial dairy farms. Approximately 1 month before calving, 2 behavioral tests, avoidance distance in response to an approaching human and exit speed from a restraint, were performed on 50 heifers at each farm. For each heifer, behavioral observations were recorded during the morning milking period (during the first and sixth weeks of lactation). Behaviors recorded during cluster placement at milking included flinching, stepping, and/or kicking (FSK). Milk yields, milking durations, and average milk flow rates were recorded for each individual heifer during the first and sixth weeks of lactation. Avoidance distance and exit speed were positively correlated ( P

Publication Title Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research
Volume 9
Issue 1
Pages 30-33
ISBN/ISSN 1558-7878
DOI 10.1016/j.jveb.2013.09.001
Language English
Author Address AgResearch Ltd, Ruakura Research Centre, Private Bag 3123, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand.mhairi.sutherland@agresearch.co.nz
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Animal welfare
  4. APEC countries
  5. Australasia
  6. Bovidae
  7. Calves
  8. Cattle
  9. Commonwealth of Nations
  10. Countries
  11. Developed countries
  12. Human behavior
  13. Humans
  14. Lactation
  15. Mammals
  16. Men
  17. Milk and dairy products
  18. milking
  19. New Zealand
  20. objectives
  21. Oceania
  22. OECD countries
  23. peer-reviewed
  24. performance traits
  25. placement
  26. Primates
  27. Relationships
  28. restraint
  29. Ruminants
  30. ungulates
  31. vertebrates
  32. yields
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed