Hourly and seasonal variations in the area preferences of dairy cows in free stall housing

Barn designs that promote animal comfort and that reflect preferences of dairy cattle play an important role in increasing animal production. A study was performed in free stall barn housing in Konya (Turkey) to determine the hourly and seasonal variation occurring in the barn area preferences of dairy cows.

Author: S.Uzal Seyfi, Journal of Dairy Science, Volume 96, Issue 2 , Pages 906-917, February 2013

The study design included the hourly and seasonal rates of usage of 5 different parts of the barn area. In addition, temperature and humidity were measured on an hourly basis. The values of the cow comfort index, cow stress index, and stall usage index (SUI) were calculated. All behavioral phenotypes were analyzed with a factorial experimental design. The relationship between the barn area preferences of the dairy cattle and the climatic data for the barn area was significant. 

The open area (a courtyard) was used at a higher rate by dairy cattle for resting, standing, and walking. In addition, the courtyard area was preferred to the free stalls for resting or lying.

 

Usage of the
courtyard

Usage of the
stalls

Cow comfort
index values

Cow stress
index values

Autumn  39.0% 22.5% 0.19 0.27
Winter    20% 35.7% 0.29 0.29
Spring    66.1% 4.6% 0.03 0.23
Summer 52.2% 8.6% 0.05 0.22

The qualities and size of the barn areas should allow comfortable movement of the animals. And, it is very important that new barn designs incorporate area preferences and the comfort of the cattle rather than high-cost investments. 

Behaviors of dairy cows were observed in a free stall barn at a commercial dairy farm from 2006 to 2007 using continuous video data (24h per d). The behaviors of the cows in the barn were videotaped for a total of 40d (960h) over 4 seasons (10d for each season) using a 60-min scan sampling technique.

Milkproduction.com

Milkproduction.com

Author: S.Uzal Seyfi

Journal of Dairy Science, Volume 96, Issue 2 , Pages 906-917, February 2013