Rumination activity of dairy cows in the 24 hours before and after calving

Christian Pahl, Eberhard Hartung, Anne Grothmann, Katrin Mahlkow-Nerge, Angelika Haeussermann
Journal of Dairy Science 2014, 97 (11): 6935-41
Monitoring rumination behavior serves multiple purposes in feeding and herd management of dairy cows. The process of calving is a major event for cows, and a detailed understanding of alterations in behavioral patterns of animals in the time around calving is important in calving detection. The objective of this study was to describe the short-term changes in rumination patterns in dairy cows immediately before and after parturition. In total, 17 cows were fitted with rumination sensors that were able to monitor rumination time, number of rumination boli, and number of rumination jaw movements. Rumination time was decreased in the last 4h antepartum and in the first 8h postpartum. Cows stopped ruminating 123 ± 58 min (mean ± standard deviation) before calving and resumed ruminating 355 ± 194 min after calving. The number of rumination jaw movements and boli per day were decreased in the 24-h period postpartum. Rumination rate, the number of rumination jaw movements per rumination minute, and the number of boli per rumination minute changed little around calving. The calving event primarily influenced the duration and frequency of various rumination characteristics but not rumination intensity. Among detected characteristics, rumination time showed the greatest potential for monitoring of calving events.

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