Association of standing and lying behavior patterns and incidence of intramammary infection in dairy cows milked with an automatic milking system

T J Devries, J A Deming, J Rodenburg, G Seguin, K E Leslie, H W Barkema
Journal of Dairy Science 2011, 94 (8): 3845-55
The standing and lying behavior patterns of dairy cows, particularly the length of time cows spend standing after milking, have the potential to influence the incidence of intramammary infection (IMI). The objectives were to describe the standing and lying behavior patterns of cows milked with an automatic milking system (AMS) and to determine how these patterns relate to the incidence of IMI. One hundred and eleven lactating Holstein dairy cows were monitored over a 4-mo period. These cows were kept in a sand-bedded freestall barn with 2 pens, each with a free cow traffic AMS. Feed was delivered once daily, and pushed up 2 to 3 times daily. Quarter milk samples were collected for bacteriological culture from each cow once every 4 wk. A new IMI was defined as a positive culture sample following a negative culture. For 7 d before each of the last 3 milk samplings, standing and lying behavior, and times of milking and feed manipulation (feed delivery and push up) were recorded. Daily lying time and lying bout length were negatively related with milk yield (r=-0.23 and -0.20, respectively) and milking frequency (r=-0.32 and -0.20, respectively); milk yield was positively related to milking frequency (r=0.58). Feed manipulation near the time cows were milked (1h before 2h after) resulted in the longest post-milking standing times (mean=86 min; 95% confidence interval=78, 94 min), whereas feed manipulation occurring outside that time frame resulted in shorter post-milking standing times. Over the study period, 171 new IMI were detected. Of these new IMI detected, those caused by coagulase-negative staphylococci were the only ones associated with post-milking standing time; as post-milking standing time increased past 2.5h after milking, the odds of acquiring a new IMI tended to also increase. In summary, standing and lying behavior patterns of cows milked with an AMS were affected by both feed manipulation and their milking activity. Further, the post-milking standing time of cows milked with an AMS can be managed by providing fresh feed, as well as by pushing up feed, frequently throughout the day. Finally, cows that spend long periods of time (>2.5h) standing following milking may be at higher risk of acquiring a new CNS IMI.

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