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Forskningsartikel - Refereegranskat, 2019

Secluded maternity areas for parturient dairy cows offer protection from herd members

Jensen, Margit Bak; Herskin, Mette S.; Rorvang, Maria Vilain


Use of individual maternity pens for dairy cows is recommended to ensure undisturbed calving and postpartum transfer of colostrum to calves, but management of these pens is a challenge due to difficulty predicting the time of calving. If group-housed cows, however, have the opportunity to calve in a secluded area of a group pen, this may limit disturbance of the dam and her newborn, especially if this area is fitted with a gate preventing other cows from entering. The aims of this study were to assess effects of cows calving inside a secluded area versus cows calving in the group area on maternal behavior and social interaction between dam and herd members during the first postpartum hour, calf's latency to stand, number of calves suckling an alien cow, and the dam's acute response to separation from the calf. This was investigated in pens consisting of a central group area with access to 6 secluded areas with or without a mechanical push gate allowing only 1 cow access at a time. At least 2 wk before expected calving, 60 Danish Holstein multiparous cows were assigned alternately, in groups of 6, to a group pen with 6 gated secluded areas or a group pen with 6 ungated secluded areas. The effects of treatment (gated, ungated) and calving place chosen within treatment (secluded area, group area) on maternal behavior, interactions with herd members, maternal response to separation, and calf latency to stand were investigated. Irrespective of whether cows calved in a secluded area or not and whether the secluded area was gated or not, cows spent, on average, 39 (+/- 7.9) min of the first hour after calving licking their calves. When calving in a gated secluded area, the cows interacted less with herd members than when calving in the group area (0.5, 28, 18, and 33 min/h for gated/secluded, gated/group, ungated/seeluded, and ungated/group areas, respectively), and no calves suckled an alien cow within the first hour after birth. In addition, the longer the calf stayed with the dam, the longer the dam stood with her head out of the pen after removal of the calf. Calf's latency to stand after calving was unaffected by treatment and calving place (mean - 39 min; range = 8 243 min). The results show that dam and calf can be protected from disturbances when cows calve in a secluded maternity area, especially if the secluded maternity area is fitted with a gate preventing other cows form entering.


calving; housing; maternal behavior; cow-calf bonding; maternity pens

Publicerad i

Journal of Dairy Science
2019, Volym: 102, nummer: 6, sidor: 5492-5500

    UKÄ forskningsämne

    Animal and Dairy Science

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