The effect of conspecific removal on behavioral and physiological responses of dairy cattle

Walker, Jessica K., Arney, David R., Waran, Natalie K., Handel, Ian G. and Phillips, Clive J. C. (2015) The effect of conspecific removal on behavioral and physiological responses of dairy cattle. Journal of Dairy Science, 98 12: 8610-8622. doi:10.3168/jds.2014-8937

Author Walker, Jessica K.
Arney, David R.
Waran, Natalie K.
Handel, Ian G.
Phillips, Clive J. C.
Title The effect of conspecific removal on behavioral and physiological responses of dairy cattle
Journal name Journal of Dairy Science   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0022-0302
Publication date 2015-12-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3168/jds.2014-8937
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 98
Issue 12
Start page 8610
End page 8622
Total pages 13
Place of publication New York, NY United States
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Subject 1106 Food Science
1103 Animal Science and Zoology
1311 Genetics
Abstract Adverse social and welfare implications of mixing dairy cows or separating calves from their mothers have been documented previously. Here we investigated the behavioral and physiological responses of individuals remaining after conspecifics were removed. We conducted a series of 4 experiments incorporating a range of types of different dairy cattle groupings [experiment 1 (E1), 126 outdoor lactating dairy cows; experiment 2 (E2), 120 housed lactating dairy cows; experiment 3 (E3), 18 housed dairy calves; and experiment 4 (E4), 22 housed dairy bulls] from which a subset of individuals were permanently removed (E1, n = 7; E2, n = 5; E3, n = 9; E4, n = 18). Associations between individuals were established using near-neighbor scores (based upon identities and distances between animals recorded before removal) in E1, E2, and E3. Behavioral recordings were taken for 3 to 5 d, before and after removal on a sample of cattle in all 4 experiments (E1, n = 20; E2, n = 20; E3, n = 9; E4, n = 4). In 2 experiments with relatively large groups of dairy cows, E1 and E2, the responses of cows that did and did not associate with the removed cows were compared. An increase in time that both nonassociates and associates spent eating was observed after conspecific removal in E1. In E2, this increase was restricted to cows that had not associated with the removed cows. A reduction in ruminating in remaining cattle was observed in E3 and eating in E4. Immunoglobulin A concentrations increased after separation in both E3 and E4 cattle, but did not differ significantly between associates and nonassociates in E2. Blood and milk cortisol concentrations were not affected by conspecific removal. These findings suggest that some animals had affected feeding behavior and IgA concentrations after removal of conspecifics.
Keyword Association
Dairy cattle
Immunoglobulin A
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Veterinary Science Publications
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