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How cows lie down : a 3-D kinematic evaluation of the lying down behaviour of holstein dairy cows Ceballos, Arthur

Abstract

Research in dairy cow (Bos taurus) housing and free-stall design has concentrated largely on the effects of the various types of stall configurations on parameters such as lying and ruminating times or on production parameters such as milk production or disease incidence. To date, no studies have examined the effects of free-stall design on specific movements of dairy cattle. Knowledge of how cows lie down in these environments may lead to a better understanding of these behaviors. I have used biomechanical techniques to measure the movement envelope of Holstein dairy cows when they lie down in an open pen, and in a freestall, and in doing so have demonstrated that these techniques can provide useful information for the assessment of cow behavior. My study found that when lying down, cows use approximately 240 to 260 cm of longitudinal space, which is more space than current industry recommendations. Cows used approximately 70 to 100 cm of lateral space, an estimate that is within current industry recommendations for stall width. In addition, I found that the spatial pattern of lateral displacement could be used to improve the design of stall partitions. Further work is required to assess a wider range of cow sizes and stall configurations. Use of the techniques described in this study will allow for relatively efficient collection and analysis of this type of data.

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