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Evaluation of Feeding Place Design for Dairy Cows by Simultaneous 3D-motion Analysis and Measurement of Forces Exerted the Feeding Rack

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  024022,  2002 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.10470) @2002
Authors:   Gracia Ude, Heiko Georg
Keywords:   Animal welfare monitoring, dairy cows, evaluation of feeding place design, manger, feeding rack, force on point of shoulders, 3D-measurement of reach

The feeding place is an important part of a dairy building, used by a cow 3 to 6 hours a day. The design of the feeding place is closely related to possible lesions and injuries at nape and brisket of the cows. Cows press their shoulders against the feeding rack in order to get additional food. A force above 500 N may occur between feeding rack and shoulder of the cows during this effort and is a potential risk for injuries.

The objective of this study was to get more information about situations with critical load at point of shoulder of cows in different feeding place designs. The major goal was to avoid injuries as mentioned above with reliable data on design of the manger and feeding management. Factors influencing forward reach and force against the feeding barrier are manger width, base height of the manger and inclination of the feeding rack. A method based on digital image processing was used to record the 3D-forward reach of cows in a manger, parallel with measurement of forces exerted the feeding barrier. A group of ten German-Holstein cows was selected for the experiment. Three levels of manger height, six different inclinations and two types of manger profiles were examined. Force was measured at a frequency of 25 Hz and reach at a frequency of 50 Hz. The statistical analysis of different parameters (critical load at point of shoulders, maximum value of force, force > 500 N) showed a significant influence of manger width and inclination on force and forward reach. An additional regression was conducted between force and reach in order to obtain data for recommendations how to reduce the critical load in different feeding place designs. Further research on the design of feeding places should point out, what contact areas exist at a certain force on point of shoulders of dairy cows and which pressure is causing pain or injuries for the animals.

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