Dairy cows offered an energy-reduced diet ad libitum during dry-off spent less time lying and more time foraging

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Abstract

Drying-off dairy cows is a challenge due to high milk yields. Dry-off management includes reduced energy supply, which may cause hunger, and reduced milking frequency, which may cause udder engorgement. Fifty-two loose-housed Holstein cows yielding +20 kg/d were used in a 2×2 design during dry-off to investigate the effect of milking frequency and feeding level onbehaviour. The last 7 d before dry-off, cows were milked either twice or once daily, and were fed either a lactation diet or this diet diluted with 30% straw, both offered ad libitum in individual bins. Behaviour was video-recorded during 24 h and analysed using GLMMs including the fixed effects milking frequency, diet, day and their interactions, and parity, while cow and group were random effects. Cows milked twice spent less time eating (means (95% CL): 130(108-150) vs 149 (127-170) min/24 h, P<0.05), likely due to time constraints increasing feeding rate. Cows fed the energy-reduced diet spent more time eating (154 (133-175) vs 124 (103-145) min/24 h, P<0.001), less time lying (793 (762-822) vs 864 (833-895) min/24 h, P<0.001), had more attempts to feed from other bins (12 (9.6-16) vs 7.0 (5.1-9.9) min/24 h, P<0.01), and spentless time using a mechanical brush (6.5 (5.0-8.3) vs 9.1 (7.0-12) min/24 h, P<0.05). More time spent feeding in cows fed the straw-dense diet likely reflects that this took longer to ingest and sorting against straw. Reduced time lying in these cows is interpreted as a motivational shift from resting to foraging. In support of this, the energy-reduced diet resulted in more attempts to feed from other bins and less time allocated to brush-use. The increased feeding attemptscombined with reduced lying time and reduced self-grooming activity of dairy cows offered an energy-reduced diet during dry-off, even when offered ad libitum, are suggested to reflect hunger, raising concern for their welfare during dry-off.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 8th International Conference on the Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group level
EditorsLaura Boyle, Keelin O'Driscoll
Number of pages1
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
Publication dateAug 2021
Pages152-152
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-8686-901-5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021
Event8th International Conference on the Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group level - Cork, Cork, Ireland
Duration: 16 Aug 202119 Aug 2021
Conference number: 8

Conference

Conference8th International Conference on the Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group level
Number8
LocationCork
Country/TerritoryIreland
CityCork
Period16/08/202119/08/2021

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