Eliminative behaviour of dairy cows at pasture

Whistance, Lindsay Kay, Sinclair, Liam A., Arney, David Richard and Phillips, Clive Julian Christie (2011) Eliminative behaviour of dairy cows at pasture. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 130 3-4: 73-80. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2010.12.011

Author Whistance, Lindsay Kay
Sinclair, Liam A.
Arney, David Richard
Phillips, Clive Julian Christie
Title Eliminative behaviour of dairy cows at pasture
Journal name Applied Animal Behaviour Science   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0168-1591
Publication date 2011-03
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2010.12.011
Volume 130
Issue 3-4
Start page 73
End page 80
Total pages 8
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Abstract Despite a strong avoidance of grazing near dung patches, cattle have traditionally been considered not to avoid bodily contact with faeces, regardless of any risk of disease. Little is understood of the behaviour of pasture-kept dairy cows at the time of defaecation and therefore, the eliminative behaviour of 40 Holstein-Friesian cows was observed at pasture for 6 h each day between morning and afternoon milking for a total of 24 h. Lying (l), standing (s) and walking (w) behaviours were recorded pre, during and post-elimination. Sequences of 3–6 changes in these behaviours were recorded if expressed within 30 s of an eliminative event. Intentional, incidental or no avoidance of faeces was also recorded for each event. Activity, characterised as static (lying, grazing or loafing), or active (moving to a different area of field, going to drink and catching up with herd) was also recorded. Of the 437 events recorded, cows rose from lying to defaecate a total of 215 times. Thirty-two different defaecation sequences were observed and cows stood to defaecate and then moved forward in 18 of these sequences. The most frequently expressed were sSws and wSws and lSw and lSws which included half of all observed events (uppercase letters denote behaviour during defaecation). In all recorded events, 383 stood and 54 walked whilst defaecating (P < 0.001). Activity indicated that cows most often stood to defaecate when performing static activities, such as loafing or grazing, before and after defaecating (P < 0.001) but not when they were active before and after eliminating (P = 0.72). Walking whilst defaecating was most likely to occur when cows were simultaneously engaged in an ‘active’ state, such as going to drink or catching up with the herd. Overall, standing to defaecate and moving forward was the predominant behaviour pattern of dairy cows at pasture, regardless of activity. Avoidance of bodily contamination with fresh faeces was shown at all observed eliminative events.
Keyword Eliminative behaviour
Faeces avoidance
Dairy cow
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Veterinary Science Publications
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Created: Tue, 18 Oct 2011, 11:54:06 EST by Professor Clive Phillips on behalf of Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics