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

Citation:  Pp. 282-287 in Fifth International Dairy Housing Proceedings of the 29-31 January 2003 Conference (Fort Worth, Texas USA)  701P0203.(doi:10.13031/2013.11633)
Keywords:   Dairy housing, Flooring, Rumination, Cubicle floor, Freestall, Slope, Floor, Ruminating periods

Dry bedding is essential for achieving clean and dry skin on dairy cows and for preventing udder infections. The aim was to study the effect of cubicle slope on cubicle floor moisture, movement while lying down and standing up, lying behaviour and ruminating behaviour. The investigation was conducted as randomised block design with 3 non lactating jersey cows, 3 slopes of the cubicle floor: -1%, 4% and 7%, slope towards the back of the cubicle, for 3 periods and 3 weeks duration. The cows were controlled with a loose 80-100 cm neck lead fixed to the floor and a safety chain at the back of the cubicle. The experimental stall had a total length of 240 cm and width of 110 cm. The cubicle floor was covered with a 180 cm long, 20 mm thick rubber mat and dressed with 2 kg fresh sawdust daily. The cows were fed grass hay ad libitum at 9:00 and 16:00 h daily. The mean daily intake was 7.2 kg dry matter containing 7 % crude protein and 27 % crude fibre. All activity was recorded by video cameras every second. Additionally, jaw movements (JM) were recorded continuously for 96 hours by sampling pressure oscillations at 20 Hz in a water filled elastic tube holder placed around the mouth. The single JM were identified and stored on a PC for later identification of eating and ruminating periods using special data analysis in SAS. The length of the area with moisture in the back portion of the rubber mat was recorded on 3 days in the morning before cleaning the cubicle. The cows tended to slide a little backwards with 4% and 7% floor slope, whereas with -1% slope the cows slide a little forward, but there was no detectable negative effect on the natural standing up or lying down movements. Increasing the slope of the cubicle lead to a significantly drier (P<0.001) and clean rubber mat at 7% slope. The cows spent 6.3 hours lying on the right side with a mean length of periods of 1.9 hours and 7.0 hours lying on the left side. The cows spent 9.3 hours ruminating distributed over 20 periods with a mean duration of 28 minutes. The duration and the number of ruminating periods were affected by the slope of the cubicle (P<0.05). 15% of the ruminating behaviour happens while the cows were standing, 34 % occur while lying on the right side and 49% while lying on the left side. It is concluded that the slope of the cubicle does not effect the time spent lying down, the number of lying periods or the laterality of the lying periods. The various slope caused no influence on the time spent on lying down movement, whereas a clean cubicle is obtained at slope of the cubicle higher than 4%. Based on these results, a slope up to maximum +7% could be recommended, but further testing has to be done under practical conditions.

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