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The effect of increased stall slope on lying behavior, rumination, and milk production of lactating dairy cows.

A. M. Wilson

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06-23-2020

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Abstract:

T8
The effect of increased stall slope on lying behavior, rumination, and milk production of lactating dairy cows.
A. M. Wilson*1, T. C. Wright2, J. P. Cant1, V. R. Osborne1. 1University of Guelph Guelph, ON, Canada, 2Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Guelph, ON, Canada.

The objective of this experiment was to determine the short-term effect of an increased stall slope on the lying behavior, rumination, and milk production of lactating dairy cows. This experiment was the first part of a project aimed at investigating the fundamental design aspects of freestalls to develop an improved cow platform with the use of a minimal indexing apparatus. Sixty multiparous Holstein cows (199.3 � 45.6 DIM; 33.7 � 5.7 kg/d) were divided randomly into 2 groups (n = 30) and exposed to 2 treatments in a crossover design with 4 7-d periods. Each group was housed in a pen with 30 freestalls and switched pens weekly. One pen had a stall slope of 3.5% (sloping from the front of the stall to the rear; parallel to stall length), which was the standard at the research facility. The stalls in an adjacent identical pen were modified to create a stall slope of 7%. All other aspects remained the same between both pens. Rumination and lying behavior were recorded continuously using rumination collars and leg-mounted pedometers, respectively. Milk yield was recorded twice per day. Data were analyzed with repeated measures ANOVA (PROC GLIMMIX) with cow as sampling unit within group and week as repeated measure. All means were adjusted with Tukey Kramer adjustment (SAS v.9.4). Cows on a 3.5% slope spent more time lying (13.0 vs. 12.8 � 0.4 h/d; P < 0.001) and had fewer lying bouts (9.6 vs. 10.2 � 0.6 bouts/day; P < 0.001) than cows on a 7% slope. There were no significant differences in milk yield (33.9 and 33.8 � 0.4 kg; P > 0.05) or rumination (590.7 vs. 588.6 � 10.0 min/day; P > 0.05) for 3.5% and 7% slopes, respectively. Results suggest that an increased stall slope may have an effect on lying behavior. This could be due in part to the relatively shorter distance between the stall surface and neck rail, since the neck rail height was not altered for the 7% slope. The increased slope did not affect milk yield or rumination.

Keywords: behavior, stall, slope.