Interplay between productive traits, the social rank and the cow's stability in the order of entrance to the milking parlour

E. Vargas-Bello-Pérez, J. Bastías-Ruz, P. Toro-Mujica, D. L. Teixeira, D. Enriquez-Hidalgo

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate whether social rank (SR) and stability in the order of entrance to the milking parlour are associated with production traits. The study was conducted on a dairy farm where cows (n = 215) were managed in three groups according to lactation stage (group 1: 78 cows, 0-100 days in milk (DIM); group 2: 65 cows, 101-200 DIM and group 3: 72 cows, 200 DIM). SR was calculated from observations made from agonistic behaviour performed at the water troughs and feed bunks of each pen (n = 3). The animals were classified into three levels of dominance based on at least five clear interactions, resulting in: 61 dominant, 75 intermediate and 69 subordinate cows based on SR. Stability in the order of entry was estimated as the standard deviation of the entry position. SR was weakly correlated with milk yield, urea and protein content in milk. The results showed that stable cows had higher milk production and entered the milking parlour after the non-stable animals. Stability in the order of entry to the milking parlour was not affected by SR. Overall, the use of milking facilities appears to be associated with production traits rather than SR.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-526
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Agricultural Science
Volume158
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Animal welfare
  • dairy
  • milking order
  • social hierarchy

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