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Animals (Basel). 2019 Apr 21;9(4). pii: E183. doi: 10.3390/ani9040183.

Lying Postures of Dairy Cows in Cubicles and on Pasture.

Author information

1
Department of Applied Biology, HAS University of Applied Sciences, PO Box 90108, 5200 MA 's Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. l.verp@has.nl.
2
Department of Applied Biology, HAS University of Applied Sciences, PO Box 90108, 5200 MA 's Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. o.almalik@has.nl.
3
Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, University of the Republic, 18 de Julio 1824, Montevideo, Uruguay. daniel.cavestany@gmail.com.
4
Department of Animal Husbandry and Animal Care, HAS University of Applied Sciences, PO Box 90108, 5200 MA 's Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. j.roelofs@has.nl.
5
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 1, 3584 CL Utrecht, The Netherlands. F.J.C.M.vanEerdenburg@uu.nl.

Abstract

Cows housed indoors with cubicles are probably more restricted in their choice of lying posture and orientation compared with cows housed on pasture. We therefore compared lying postures on pasture in Uruguay and the Netherlands with lying postures in cubicles in the Netherlands, also recording orientation on pasture in Uruguay and divider and bedding type in Dutch cubicles. We visited one farm with four herds in Uruguay, doing live observations, and 25 Dutch farms, taking pictures of cows. Observations of 205 cows on pasture in Uruguay showed more long postures, lying on their belly with their neck stretched. Two herds preferred lying towards north and south, while one herd preferred west and east. Pictures of 217 cows on pasture in the Netherlands showed more wide postures (lying on the side with three or four legs stretched out). Pictures of 527 cows in cubicles in the Netherlands showed more narrow postures (lying on the side with hind legs folded). More long postures (lying on the belly with a stretched neck) and less short postures (lying with the head folded back) were seen in cubicles with soft floors and English dividers; more narrow postures were seen in cubicles with concrete floors. Wide postures were seen more in cubicles with mattresses and free-hanging dividers. We conclude that since cows in cubicles show more narrow postures than on pasture and cannot choose their orientation, their choice in showing preferred behavior is restricted. More research is needed to study the consequences of restricted choice in lying behavior on the health and welfare of dairy cows.

KEYWORDS:

dairy cattle; housing system; lying postures; orientation

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