By M. A. G. von Keyserlingk and D.M. Weary, Animal Welfare Program, University of British Columbia.
Take Home Messages
1. Cows like softer surfaces, for both lying down and for standing upon. Deep-bedded stalls work well for cow comfort, but require maintenance.
2. When it comes to the physical structures used to build freestalls: less is more. The hardware we place in the stall is for our benefit and not the cow’s. The more restrictive we design stalls, the less attractive they become for the cow.
3. Use of restrictive stall designs can help keep stalls clean; but to avoid problems with hoof health these designs need to be accompanied by better flooring options, such as softer and drier flooring.
4. The design and management of the feeding area is important. High stocking densities at the feed bunk increase aggressive competition and keep subordinate cows away from feed.
5. Physical barriers between cows, including head locks and feed stalls, can help reduce this competition and increase feeding time.
6. Socially subordinate animals may not be able to cope with frequent restructuring of the social hierarchy resulting in reduced feeding time, dry matter intake (DMI), and avoidance behavior in response to social confrontations; putting these cows at greater risk of nutritional deficiencies that impair immune function and increase susceptibility to disease after calving.
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Article published on the Cattle Site,
Shared with us by CowSignals friend Mohammed Alkhateeb.