Lameness prevalence, lying behaviour and welfare in different housing systems for dairy cattle - increased cow comfort with straw bedding

Brinkmann, Jan GND; Lorenz, Sven; Winckler, Christoph

It was the aim of this study to compare cubicles with soft matresses, straw bedded cubicles and bedded-pack systems with regard to lameness prevalence, lying behaviour and related welfare indicators such as leg injuries. Data collection took place on five farms per housing system. Animals were locomotion scored using a five-category-system and assessed for leg injuries such as skin lesions and swellings. Lying behaviour was recorded for 48 h in 9 cows per farm using dataloggers fitted with mercury switch position sensors. Herds on soft mattresses had significantly higher lameness prevalence (48.0%b) than on straw bedded cubicles (19.7%a) or when housed on bedded pack systems (29.8%ab) (Kruskall-Wallis/Mann-Whitney-U, values with different superscripts differ at p<0.01). Severe integumentary lesions such as scabs on the hocks were also more frequent on soft mattresses (48.6%b) than in straw bedded cubicles (2.9%a) and bedded-pack systems (3.0%a) (Kruskall-Wallis/Mann-Whitney-U, p<0.01). Lying behaviour of herds on mattresses (lying time 11.6 – 12.9h/24h) did not significantly differ from the other housing systems. However, lying time was lowest in bedded-pack systems (9.9 – 11.6h/24h) with more lying bouts of shorter duration in this system. Based on the parameters studied, straw bedded cubicles can be regarded as the most welfare friendly lying place.

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Brinkmann, Jan / Lorenz, Sven / Winckler, Christoph: Lameness prevalence, lying behaviour and welfare in different housing systems for dairy cattle - increased cow comfort with straw bedding. 2008.

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