UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Management practices and cow-level factors related to claw horn disruption lesions in dairy cows Eriksson, Hanna Kristina


Prolonged standing has been related to an increased risk of claw horn disruption lesions (CHDL), likely by increasing the mechanical load on the hoof. Standing behaviour can be affected by management practices. For example, prolonged standing has been reported for primiparous animals after mixing with older cows, presumably as a result of increased social competition. The hoof is believed to be more vulnerable to mechanical damage around calving, making this a period of a particular interest. The aims of this thesis were to evaluate the relationship between standing behaviour around calving and CHDL later in lactation, and to investigate if the social environment affects how heifers behaviourally react to regrouping. In Chapter 1, I summarise the current knowledge regarding factors that can affect standing behaviour, with particular focus on the social environment. As there is no consensus for how to interpret longitudinal locomotion data, I evaluate how assessment frequency, and lameness definition affect measures of lameness incidence in Chapter 2. A single observation of compromised locomotion as criterion for lameness was poorly related to more strict lameness definitions, and to the presence of claw lesions at trimming. In Chapter 3, I evaluate if the positive association between prolonged standing and sole lesions found in experimental studies is present also on commercial farms. Standing time and standing bout duration during the first 2 wk after calving were positively related to the odds of developing sole lesions later in lactation, as was an increase in standing bout duration from pre- to postpartum. In Chapter 4, I investigate if the social environment influence the standing behaviour of newly calved heifers after regrouping. I found no difference in standing behaviour between heifers regrouped to a low-stocked pen with familiar animals and heifers mixed with multiparous older cow at 100% stocking density, and under the conditions used in this study regrouping did not cause prolonged standing. These studies provide evidence that standing behaviour during the transition period is temporally related with CHDL on commercial farms, and suggest that the effect of regrouping on standing behaviour is influenced by the conditions under which regrouping occurs.

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