Behavioral changes in freestall-housed dairy cows with naturally occurring clinical mastitis

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  • Katrine Kop Fogsgaard, Danmark
  • Torben Werner Bennedsgaard, Danmark
  • Mette S Herskin
Dairy cows exhibit classic signs of sickness behavior during mastitis. However, knowledge about the consequences of naturally occurring mastitis in freestall-housed dairy cows, milked in automatic milking systems, is lacking. The aim of the present study was to describe the behavior of dairy cows after diagnosis and antibiotic treatment of mastitis. In the days before and after antibiotic treatment, the milking behavior, feeding, and activity were examined in 30 mastitic and 30 control Danish Holstein-Friesian cows kept in freestalls and milked by an automatic milking system. Sickness behavior was evident in the mastitic dairy cows and local clinical signs in the udder as well as behavioral changes persisted beyond the 3 d of antibiotic treatment. In the days before diagnosis and treatment, feed intake was reduced compared with the control animals. Although reduced by the antibiotic treatment, this difference persisted until at least 10 d after diagnosis. Sick cows spent less time lying in the initial days after treatment, reversing to the level of the control cows within the 10 d posttreatment period. In the 48 h before antibiotic treatment, the mastitic cows showed increased restlessness during milking, as seen by a higher frequency of tripping and kicking. Mastitic cows continued to show increased kicking during milking even after the antibiotic treatment period. These results show that the behavioral changes induced by naturally occurring mastitis persisted beyond the days of antibiotic treatment, thereby calling for further investigation into management of mastitic dairy cows to optimize recovery and ensure animal welfare during the recovery period after clinical mastitis.
TidsskriftJournal of Dairy Science
Sider (fra-til)1730-1738
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2015

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