UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Competition Strategies of Metritic and Healthy Transition Cows Foris, Borbala; von Keyserlingk, Marina A. G.; Weary, Daniel M.


Our study aimed to characterize social competition strategies in transition cows, and determine how these varied with health status. We retrospectively followed 52 cows during 3 periods (PRE: d −6 to −1 prepartum, POST1: d 1 to 3 postpartum, POST2: d 4 to 6 postpartum). Cows diagnosed with metritis on d 6 postpartum (n = 26) were match paired with healthy cows (n = 26). Measures of agonistic behavior (i.e., replacements at the feeder) and feeding synchrony were determined by an algorithm based on electronic feed bin data, and used to calculate competition strategies via principal component analysis. We found consistent strategies, defined by two components (asynchrony and competitiveness; explaining 82% of the total variance). We observed no differences in strategies when comparing healthy and metritic cows, but metritic cows tended to change their strategies more between PRE and POST1, and between POST1 and POST2, indicating that strategies change in association with parturition and metritis. We conclude that cows show individual variation in competition strategies, and that automated measures of strategy change may help in detecting metritis.

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