Feeding behaviour, productivity and welfare of dairy cows

Tuesday, July 22, 2014: 10:40 AM
2101 (Kansas City Convention Center)
Marina A.G. von Keyserlingk , University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Daniel M. Weary , University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Abstract Text: Over the last decade there has been a growing scientific interest in feeding behavior of dairy cattle, in part because dairy nutritionists are now becoming interested in how changes in feed intake are mediated by changes in behavior and, in part, because changes in feeding behavior are increasingly recognized as useful indicator of cow health. Feeding behavior can be described using several measures, including the number and duration of meals, as well as intake and feeding rate. However, it is now clear that changes in feeding behavior are mediated in part by changes in other primary behaviors such as social and lying behavior. It is also well established that the delivery of fresh feed is a primary factor stimulating feeding behavior by intensively housed dairy cows. Moreover, management factors such as competition at the feed bunk and regrouping can profoundly affect feeding behavior, with subordinate animals often showing the most pronounced effects. Many types of diseases are common after calving; these include illnesses caused by infectious agents and disturbances in metabolism. Much of our work has focused on identifying links between feeding behavior and a common infectious disease of the uterus, metritis. For example, over a series of studies we now provide solid evidence that feeding behavior is altered in cows, during the period of illness, but even more interesting is that this behavior is altered in the weeks leading up to parturition, long before clinical signs are evident, compared to healthy cows. We also review the relationship between lying, social, and feeding behavior as work now indicates that each of these behaviors impacts the other and collectively they play a role in expression of sickness behavior by cattle.

Keywords: social behaviour, lying behaviour, disease