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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Dairy cows with prolonged calving seek additional isolation

Rorvang, M. V.; Herskin, M. S.; Jensen, M. B.


In modern calving facilities, dairy cows either calve in a group pen or are moved to a separate individual pen when calving is imminent. In practice, cows are often moved too close to calving, which poses a health risk to cow and calf. Thus, a need exists for new calving facility designs and management practices that better align with the motivations of the cow. This study examined dairy cow preferences for individual calving pens by offering 3 different levels of isolation (tall and narrow, low and wide, and tall and wide) by analyzing the association between precalving behavior, choice of degree of isolation, and the progress of calving. The hypotheses were that cows would prefer the highest level of isolation when giving birth, and that calving in a high level of isolation would be associated with less restlessness and a shorter calving duration. Contrary to these hypotheses, no specific preference between degrees of isolation or difference in calving behavior in the different calving pens was found. However, cows experiencing a longer calving duration chose to calve in the most secluded calving pen (tall and wide). These results cannot determine cause and effect, but may suggest that interactions between motivation for isolation seeking and calving behavior exist.


isolation seeking; maternal behavior; calving site selection; cow preferences

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2017, Volume: 100, number: 4, pages: 2967-2975
Publisher: Elsevier Inc.

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Animal and Dairy Science

    Publication Identifiers


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