Dairy cows with mild-moderate mastitis change lying behavior in hospital pens

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In dairy production, mastitis is a major problem affecting animal welfare, productivity, and economy. Hospital pens are typically not used for cows with mastitis, except for severe cases involving recumbency. This field trial included 47 cows from three Danish herds followed for 8 d, of which days 1–5 involved the experimental housing. After day 5, all cows were kept with the lactating group. We examined lying behavior in dairy cows with naturally occurring, mild-moderate mastitis in hospital pens [single or group (depending on conditions on the farm), all with deep straw bedding] vs. sick cows kept in the group of healthy herd mates. Within a herd, every other cow fulfilling the inclusion criteria regarding mastitis was allocated to each of the two experimental treatments. Clinical data from involved cases were collected. No significant differences between housing treatments were found in the clinical variables or the daily lying time. During the period of experimental housing, cows kept in hospital pens showed a higher frequency of lying bouts compared with control cows. This difference did not persist after reintroduction to the lactating herd mates. These results suggest that aspects of lying behavior of dairy cows with mastitis are sensitive to the environment as the frequency of lying bouts differed between cows kept in hospital pens and cows kept in control treatment. More controlled studies are needed to examine underlying motivations and evaluate consequences in terms of animal welfare. For such studies, the inclusion of healthy cows for comparison will be valuable
Original languageEnglish
Article numbertxaa038
JournalTranslational Animal Science
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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