Project without external funding

Possible long-term-effects of dam rearing: behaviour of heifers during the integration into the milking herd

Project Details
Project duration: 20142015


Effects of three rearing conditions
on the lying behaviour of heifers during integration into the dairy herd and
their performance during the first lactation were investigated: (1) free, (2)
half-day (6:45 a.m. – 06:00 p.m.) or (3) no mother-contact during the first
nine weeks of life. ‘Free’- (n=5) and ‘Half’-calves (n=5) were kept in groups
consisting of 13 or 11 mother-calf pairs, respectively, in the cows’ barn and
were suckled. Calves without mother-contact were separated after birth, grouped
with other calves at two weeks of age and were fed with max. 2x3 L warm whole
milk per day with a nipple bucket (‘No’: n=9). During the 10th week
of life mother-contact calves were separated from the dam with visual contact
and were trained to drink milk from a nipple bucket. After this week all calves
were grouped together and rearing conditions were the same with gradual weaning
until the 13th week of life. Grown up heifers were introduced into
the dairy herd (61-90 cows) in the evening 2-3 milkings after their calving,
mostly singly but in one ‘No’ and three ‘Free’ heifers as pairs. Apart from two
“No” heifers all animals had pasture access during regrouping. Lying behavior
was recorded with data loggers during the first 48 h. Thereafter body weight,
height at the withers and trunk girth were measured. Age at calving, milk yield
until the 100th day of lactation, mean daily milk yield of the total
lactation, lactation duration and culling rates were taken from the milk
recording data. No significant differences between ‘Free’- and ‘Half’-heifers
could be found in any parameter. On the first day after introduction heifers of
all groups showed considerably reduced lying durations. In the second 24 h
‘Free’- lay significantly, ‘Half’- in tendency longer than ‘No’-heifers, based
on more lying bouts. Within the ‘Free’- and ‘Half’-groups lying duration
increased through more frequent lying bouts from the first to the second day.
Lying duration of ‘No’-animals increased only slightly, and non-significantly,
due to a significant increase of lying bout durations. No advantages in growth
and productivity could be detected.

Last updated on 2021-22-04 at 13:14