Assessing response to dry-off in dairy cows kept outdoors using spontaneous behaviours and infrared thermography-a pilot study

Guilherme Amorim Franchi, Margit Bak Jensen, Mette S Herskin, David M McNeill, Clive J C Phillips
Tropical Animal Health and Production 2020 November 25, 53 (1): 46
We used spontaneous behaviours to assess response to dry-off involving abrupt dietary and milking frequency changes, followed by regrouping, after the last milking in 15 clinically healthy Holstein-Frisian cows kept outdoors. Moreover, we explored the potential of infrared thermography to detect eye temperature variations possibly induced by dry-off. On days - 1, 0, 1 and 2 relative to dry-off, we recorded whether cows vocalised during feed delivery; ate fresh feed within 5 min; and mean maximum eye temperature at approximately 1 h after feed delivery. On days 1 and 2, cows were more likely to eat fresh feed compared to days - 1 and 0. No difference in likelihood of vocalising was found. Compared to day - 1, eye temperature was substantially higher on days 0 and 2. Collectively, the results suggest that cows responded, both behaviourally and physiologically, to the abrupt dry-off management. The interpretation of the current findings deserves further investigation using larger sample sizes, more controlled environments and further behavioural, physiological, cognitive and clinical measures.

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