A comparison of the production, health and behaviour of dairy cattle under indoor and outdoor management systems

Ortiz, Luis A. Estrada (2000) A comparison of the production, health and behaviour of dairy cattle under indoor and outdoor management systems. MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This study was carried out at the Scottish Agriculture College (SAC) Crichton Royal Farm, Dumfries, over the summer period from May to October 1999, and incorporated two experiments. The general objective of Experiment 1 was to compare two groups of dairy cows, under two different management systems (indoors or outdoors). The specific objectives within the experiment were to evaluate animal performance, animal health and animal behaviour. Experiment 2 aimed to observe further on the cow's behaviour and adaptation of the outdoors group (O/I) when it was introduced into the cubicle house after the grazing period during the summer. The same twenty eight Holstein-Friesian spring calving dairy cows were used in both experiments. Cows were allocated and paired between treatments on the basis of milk yield, lactation number and calving date. In experiment 1, milk production and composition were recorded monthly; cows were also locomotion scored every two weeks; mastitis (clinical and subclinical) and fertility records were taken monthly and compared. Behavioural observations were made on ten cows from each group. Cows were observed once each month for ten hours during daylight and scanned every five minutes on their feeding, ruminating and lying behaviour and the time they spent doing nothing. Financial performance of each treatment was also evaluated. The objective of Experiment 2 was to compare the same groups, and particularly to note the adaptation, from outdoors to indoors, of the cows which had been grazed over the previous five months. In Experiment 2 the same length of time and number of animals were used for behaviour observations. And the animal's production and health were again compared. In experiment 1, milk production was not different between treatments. The indoor treatment however produced milk with a higher fat content (4.37 %) than the outdoors (3.64 %), but it also produced significantly less (p<0.001) protein compared to the outdoors group, 3.06 % and 3.38 % respectively. The indoor treatment showed higher liveweights (p<0.01) but cows were poorer in condition score (p<0.001) compared to the outdoor treatment. In experiment 1, the outdoors was the most economical treatment with a margin over all feed of 4.4 pp1 per cow greater than indoors treatment and was demonstrated to be more efficient in forage energy conversion, forage providing maintenance energy plus 19 litres, compared with maintenance plus 10 litres for the indoor group. The number of cows scoring a locomotion score 3 (clinically lame) or more, was higher for the indoor treatment (p<0.01). Somatic cell count (SCC) was significantly higher (p<0.05) for the outdoors treatment over the five months. The fertility records showed that 19 cows (70 %) became pregnant in the indoors treatment compared to 20 cows (77 %) pregnant in the outdoors treatment, this difference was not significant. The behavioural observations showed that the cows kept outdoors spent significantly (p<0.001) longer feeding but also significantly (p<0.001) less time ruminating while standing compared to the indoor treatment. However the indoor treatment spent significantly longer ruminating over the five months experiment. In experiment 2, behaviour observations made in the cubicle house showed that the group which had been outdoors and then housed indoors (O/I), decreased their feeding time, increased the time spent ruminating while standing and the total ruminating time became similar to the I/I treatment, which had been indoors the whole experimental period. In experiment 1, the outdoor treatment spent longer ruminating whilst lying down, which is considered as a normal behaviour. In Experiment 2, the behaviour of the O/I treatment group, which had previously spent less time ruminating whilst standing, changed after housing to a similar behaviour pattern to the group which had been indoors through the summer.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Advisers: D. J. Roberts; J. Bell
Keywords: Animal sciences.
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Supervisor, not known
Date of Award: 2000
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2000-72557
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2019 11:06
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2021 10:10
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/72557

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