JOURNAL ARTICLE

Time budgets of lactating dairy cattle in commercial freestall herds

A Gomez, N B Cook
Journal of Dairy Science 2010, 93 (12): 5772-81
21094749
The aim of this study was to examine the time budgets of 205 lactating dairy cows housed in 16 freestall barns in Wisconsin and to determine the relationships between components of the time budget and herd- and cow-level fixed effects using mixed models. Using continuous video surveillance, time lying in the stall, time standing in the stall, time standing in the alleys (including drinking), time feeding, and time milking (time out of the pen for milking and transit) during a 24-h period were measured for each cow. In addition, the number of lying bouts and the mean duration of each lying bout per 24-h period were determined. Time milking varied between cows from 0.5 to 6.0 h/d, with a mean ± standard deviation of 2.7 ± 1.1h/d. Time milking was influenced significantly by pen stocking density, and time milking negatively affected time feeding, time lying, and time in the alley, but not time standing in the stall. Locomotion score, either directly or through an interaction with stall base type (a rubber crumb-filled mattress, MAT, or sand bedding, SAND), influenced pen activity. Lame cows spent less time feeding, less time in the alleys, and more time standing in the stalls in MAT herds, but not in SAND herds. The effect of lameness on lying time is complex and dependent on the time available for rest and differences in resting behavior observed between cows in MAT and SAND herds. In MAT herds, rest was characterized by a larger number of lying bouts of shorter duration than in SAND herds (mean = 14.4; confidence interval, CI: 12.4 to 16.5 vs. mean = 10.2; CI: 8.2 to 12.2 bouts per d, and mean = 1.0; CI: 0.9 to 1.1 vs. mean = 1.3, CI: 1.2 to 1.4h bout duration for MAT and SAND herds, respectively). Lameness was associated with an increase in time standing in the stall and a reduction in the mean (CI) number of lying bouts per day from 13.2 (CI: 12.3 to 14.1) bouts/d for nonlame cows to 10.9 (CI: 9.30 to 12.8) bouts/d for moderately lame cows, and an overall reduction in lying time in MAT herds compared with SAND herds (11.5; CI: 10.0 to 13.0 vs. 12.7; CI: 11.0 to 14.3h/d, respectively). These results show that time out of the pen milking, stall base type, and lameness significantly affect time budgets of cows housed in freestall facilities.

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