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The effect of rubber versus concrete passageways in cubicle housing on claw health and reproduction of pluriparous dairy cows

By L. A. Boyle, J. F. Mee, P. J. Kiernan

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Abstract

The effect of covering the passageways and feed face of a cubicle house with rubber flooring was compared to concrete in terms of claw health, behaviour and reproductive performance of dairy cows from a grass-based milk production system. Sixty-two, autumn calving, pluriparous Holstein-Friesian cows were introduced to the housing treatments prior to calving. Foot lesions were scored at housing, 1, 7, 12 and 16 weeks post-partum. The behaviour (activity, posture, and location) of all cows was recorded by instantaneous scan sampling over 24 h once per week from ca. 3 weeks pre-partum to 12 weeks post-partum. Oestrous activity was recorded by visual observation three times daily using tail-paint and continuously by radiotelemetry from 1 week after calving until the end of the breeding season. The rubber flooring had a negligible beneficial effect on heel erosion but no effect on haemorrhage or dermatitis scores and no effect on the proportion of cows affected by severe lesions. Furthermore, there were no benefits for oestrous expression or subsequent reproductive performance. There were no differences between treatments in time spent standing by cows, but cows on concrete stood more in the cubicles, while cows on the rubber flooring stood more at the feed face. This suggests that cows prefer to stand on comfortable surfaces while not feeding and that they can use well-bedded, comfortable cubicles for standing to get relief for their feet from concrete floors. This also explains the lack of a difference between treatments in claw health.

Date 2007
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 106
Issue 1/3
Pages 1-12
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Teagasc, Moorepark Dairy Production Research Centre, Fermoy, Co. Cork, Irish Republic. john.mee@teagasc.ie
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Tags
  1. Animal housing
  2. Animal reproduction
  3. Breeding
  4. Cattle
  5. Claw
  6. Dairy animals
  7. Estrous cycle
  8. Farms
  9. Floors
  10. Lesions
  11. Mammals
  12. peer-reviewed
  13. Reproduction
  14. rubber
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  1. peer-reviewed