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Effect of lameness on feeding behavior of zero grazed Jersey dairy cows

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  • Sandra Gündel, Neubrandenburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany
  • Christian Looft, Neubrandenburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany
  • Leslie Foldager
  • Peter T. Thomsen
The dairy industry faces major challenges with high levels of lameness, in parallel to an increased consumer focus on animal welfare. This encourages farmers to consider more robust breeds, such as Jersey cows. As little is known about the behavior of this breed under loose housing conditions, the present study sought to describe the feeding behavior of lame and non-lame Jersey cows in different parities. Such breed-specific information of behavioral changes is needed for breed-specific herd management decisions and may contribute to identifying animals that are susceptible to developing lameness in the future, thus reducing impacts on the welfare and production of cows. Feeding data from 116 Danish Jersey cows were collected using automatic feeders, and lameness status was assessed by technicians every second week. The cows were kept in a loose housing system, with cubicles, a slatted concrete floor, and automatic milking robots. Eating time per visit and per day, the number of visits per day, and intervals between meals were analyzed using generalized linear mixed effects models. The effect of lameness was not significant for any variable. Primiparous Jersey cows had significantly longer eating times per day, shorter meal intervals, and a lower number of visits per day than older Jersey cows. Week in lactation affected the eating time per visit and per day, the number of visits, and between-meal intervals. In conclusion, we found no differences between lame and non-lame Jersey cows but between parities, which disagree with previous research on other breeds, suggesting that Jersey cows not just differ in size and looks but also in their behavioral reaction when lame. Although data from only one herd of a research center were used, this study has demonstrated the need for further research about breed-specific differences and their implications for the health and welfare of the animals.
Original languageEnglish
Article number980238
JournalFrontiers in Veterinary Science
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

    Research areas

  • feeding behavior, dairy cattle, Jersey cows, lameness, breed difference

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