Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Effect of pen size, group size, and stocking density on activity in freestall-housed dairy cows

Telezhenko, E.; von Keyserlingk, M. A. G.; Talebi, A.; Weary, D. M.


The purpose was to determine the effects of the physical dimensions of the pen and group size and stocking density on cow activity. Cows (randomly assigned to 4 groups of 6 animals each) were tested in pens with 24 or 12 lying places and in groups with 12 or 6 cows. All groups were tested in each of the 4 treatments with treatment order allocated using a 4 x 4 Latin square. The distance moved and the number of movements were calculated using 5-min scan sampling of video recordings over a 48-h period. Time spent lying down, number of lying bouts, and the duration of each lying bout were recorded using activity sensors. Displacements at the feed bunk were assessed by continuous analysis of video for 3 h after the delivery of the fresh feed in the afternoon. Cows moved greater distances when kept in a large versus small pens (330.2 vs. 270.1 +/- 11.6 m/d; mean +/- SE), irrespective of group size. Cows moved more often when kept in the larger pen (21.3 vs. 19.2 +/- 0.63% of scans). The time spent lying clown decreased when density increased (59.1 vs. 55.8 +/- 2.3% of scans at 25% and 100% stocking, respectively). Treatment had no effect on the number of displacements at the feed bunk. Physical dimensions of the pen play an important role in how much cows move, and stocking density affects lying time.


cattle; locomotion; exercise; lying time

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2012, Volume: 95, number: 6, pages: 3064-3069

    SLU Authors

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Animal and Dairy Science

    Publication Identifiers


    Permanent link to this page (URI)