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Electronic Monitoring of Behavioral Patterns of Dairy Cows in a Cooling Freestall

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

Citation:  Sixth International Dairy Housing Conference Proceeding, 16-18 June 2007, (Minneapolis, Minnesota) (Electronic Only)  701P0507e.(doi:10.13031/2013.22794)
Authors:   Soraia Vanessa Matarazzo, Mauricio Perissinotto, Iran Jose Oliveira da Silva, Daniella Jorge Moura, Sergio Augusto Albuquerque Fernandes
Keywords:   Environment, heat stress, evaporative cooling, cow behavior

The thermal environment is a major factor that can negatively affect milk production. Several researchers have shown that housing systems in hot climates can be modified with the use of evaporative cooling to improve milk production, reproductive efficiency and well-being of dairy cows. This work aimed to use electronic monitoring for evaluating behavior patterns of lactating cows in a cooling freestall. Four video cameras were strategically installed in each treatment for capturing in real time images of animal displacements. The images were daily recorded from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during 7 days. Fifteen multiparous lactating cows producing 20 kg of milk per day were used. The tested treatments were: non-fan (NF), fan (F) and fan plus misting (FM) in direction to animal bedding. Dry bulb temperature (DBT) and air relative humidity (RH) inside and outside of the facility were measured through a period of 24 hours using a data logger. No difference (P>0.05) were found among DBT. Means of 26.6; 26.8 and 26.6C were found for treatments non-fan, fan and fan plus misting, respectively. The RH was higher in non-fan (61.8%) and fan plus misting (61.8%) treatments than in fan (60.3%) treatment. Also, the temperature and humidity index was higher in fan (75.0) treatment than in non-fan (74.5) and fan plus misting (74.3) treatments. In the treatment with fan, animals spent more time in the feeding area (108.3 min) than those of non-fan (60.7 min) and fan plus misting (72.5 min) treatments. Fan treatment cows spent more time (19.3 min) in waterers in relation to non-fan (8.3 min). Different patterns were observed in the cows preference relative to resting area. The resting areas include the bedding adjacent to feeding area and bedding adjacent to waterers. Cows of non-fan (189.0 min) and fan (167.3 min) spent more time lying in the bedding adjacent to feeding area. However, the cows of treatment fan plus misting (164.0 min of total) spent more time lying in the bedding adjacent to waterers in relation fan (26.7 min). The cows of fan plus misting treatment also spent more time (35.0 min) standing in passage area (waterers) than of non-fan and fan (10.0 min). In the current experiment, the results indicate difference in freestall occupancy. The cows preference was always related to availability of cooling system.

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