Effects of Three Tail Painting Formulations on Behavior of Dairy Heifers

Wednesday, July 23, 2014: 11:45 AM
2505B (Kansas City Convention Center)
Cassandra S. Skenandore , University of Illinois, Urbana, IL
Felipe C. Cardoso , University of Illinois, Urbana, IL
Abstract Text:

Studies have shown that the correct use of tail paint can identify almost 90% of cows in standing heat. To investigate the potential relationship among the utilization of different formulations of commercially available tail paint and their effectiveness in heifers, 18 Holstein heifers at breeding age were selected, balanced by age (13.7 ± 1.2 months), body weight (394±32 Kg), and body condition score (3.43±0.1 on a 1 to 5 scale), and randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups. Experimental treatments were: Control (CON), orange color, tail chalk, commercial formulation; Treatment A (TRTA), orange color, tail chalk, new formulation; and Treatment B (SPRAY), orange color, spray formulation. Experimental design was a Replicated 3x3 Latin square design with 6 total squares, 3 animals per square. Each period was 14 d. Visual observations were performed for tail paint licking (LICK; being licked at the tail paint), social licking (SOCLICK; being licked at the head, neck, or leg areas), rump licking (RUMPLICK; being licked at the rump area), and product disappearance (TPREMOVED; score from 0 to 2 according to the degree of tail paint removal) in 30-minute segments every 2 hours from 6AM to 6PM. Video recordings were used to confirm observations. The outcome variables of interest LICK, SOCLICK, and RUMPLICK were summarized to daily counts of interactions. Assessment of TPREMOVED was done once daily before subsequent treatment application. A synchronization protocol (Ovsynch®: 100mg GnRH, then 25mg PGF2α 7d later, and 100mg GnRH 2d after PGF2α) was used to stimulate high and low social interactions. Statistical analyses were performed using the GLIMMIX procedure of SAS (SAS v9.3 Institute Inc. Cary, NC, USA). Half of the heifers (51.4%) received at least one SOCLICK, but only 10.1% of the heifers received a RUMPLICK. There were no treatment differences for SOCLICK (P>0.88) or RUMPLICK (P>0.42). The majority (75.3%) of the heifers did not receive LICK and less than 2% of the heifers received more than one LICK. Heifers receiving SPRAY had lower number of LICK per day (P=0.005) when compared to CON or TRTA. Heifers that received SPRAY had less TPREMOVED (P=0.0001) when compared to CON or TRTA, and TRTA heifers had less TPREMOVED (P=0.01) when compared to CON. In conclusion, SPRAY had lower number of LICK and lower TPREMOVED. Licking behavior seen on commercial dairy farms may be primarily from social licking rather than tail paint licking.

Keywords: tail paint, dairy heifers, licking behavior