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Troubleshooting Design-Based Cow Comfort Issues

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Dan McFarland, an Agricultural Engineering Extension Educator for Penn State University, presented this material for DAIReXNET on January 14, 2015.

Find more information at http://www.extension.org/pages/15830/archived-dairy-cattle-webinars

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Troubleshooting Design-Based Cow Comfort Issues

  1. 1. Troubleshooting Design-Based Cow Comfort Issues Dan F. McFarland, M.S., Agricultural Engineering Educator
  2. 2. • Excellent air quality • Dry, comfortable resting area • Good access to feed • Good access to water • Confident footing • Simple cow movement & handling • Good observation • Simple sorting, isolation & restraint • Easy feed delivery, management & removal • Easy manure collection & removal Dairy Shelter Basics
  3. 3. Troubleshooting Cow Comfort Issues • What’s the problem? – Production – Feed intake – Lameness – Health – Injury – Reproduction
  4. 4. Dairy Cow Daily Time Budget Activity Time per day Eating 3 to 5 hrs Resting 12 to 14 hrs Social Interactions 2 to 3 hrs Ruminating (resting & standing) 7 to 10 hrs Drinking 0.5 hrs Outside pen (milking, travel) 2.5 to 3.5 hrs Source: Grant, 2006 20.5 – 21.5 hrs/day
  5. 5. • Need to measure – Space • Length, width, height – Time – Percentage • Need to observe – Takes time – Time-lapse photograpy Troubleshooting Cow Comfort Issues (110 – 96) 96 X 100 = 14.6%
  6. 6. Troubleshooting Cow Comfort Issues • Air quality • Resting time & stall use • Feed & water access • Lameness • Injury • Cleanliness • Time away from pen • Stocking density • Heat stress
  7. 7. Common factors that limit cow comfort & performance • Stocking density • Resting area • Feed access & availability • Time away from pen • Heat stress
  8. 8. Dairy Facility Risk Factors Feeding Water Air Quality Heat Stress Abatement Stalls Overcrowding
  9. 9. Stocking Density • Overcrowding – ((Total cows – Total Stalls) / (Total Stalls) x 100 – ((144 cows– 120 stalls) / (120 stalls) x 100 = 20% • Population – ((Total cows) / (Total stalls)) – ((144 cows) / (120 stalls)) = 1.20 cows per stall
  10. 10. Stock Density & Milk Production <80% 80 – 100% 100 – 120% >120% Milk yield, lbs/d 68.1 64.3 64.4 52.7 Std. deviation ±3.3 ±6.4 ±8.1 ±5.1 (Bach et al., 2008) What are the economics associated with losing 12 pounds of milk per day? (Grant, 2014)
  11. 11. • Greater aggression & bunk displacements • Faster feeding rate • Less resting time • Increase idle standing in alleys • Decreased rumination • Subordinate cows most affected • Reduced milk yield • Lower milk fat • Greater SSC • More health disorders • Increased lameness • Fewer cows pregnant Summary of cow response to overcrowding Behavior Change Possible Economic Losses Source: Grant, 2014
  12. 12. What is Optimal? • Lactating Cows – 2- row groups: Don’t exceed 115 – 120% • Mixed 1st lactation & older cows: 100% – 3 row groups: 100% of stalls • Close-up & Fresh Cows – 30” feed space per cow – Ensure stall availability Source: Grant, 2014
  13. 13. Cows rest 10 to 14 hours per day Freestalls Tie stalls Bedded Pen / Pack “Compost” Bedded Pack Trouble-shooting the resting area
  14. 14. Resting Area Design & Management • Resting area design and installation – Encourage cows to use – Provide comfort & a confident footing – Promote cleanliness & udder health
  15. 15. • Cows will sacrifice eating time to compensate for lost resting time • Cows will increase feeding rate to make up for reduction in eating time – ‘slug’ feeding Lying time takes priority over eating Sources: Metz, 1985; Hopster et al., 2002; Munsgaard et al., 2005; Cooper et al., 2007)
  16. 16. Indicators of Resting Area Comfort • Locomotion scoring – LS 1: >75% ; LS 2: < 15% • Hock assessment – Score 1: >95%+ ; Score 2: <5% • Hygiene scoring – Score 1 & 2: >90%
  17. 17. Stall Use Measurements • Cow Comfort Index (CCI) – ((Total lying in stalls) / (Total touching stall)) x 100 • Stall Use Index (SUI) – ((Total lying in stalls) / (Total not eating)) x 100 > 85% desired > 75% desired
  18. 18. “Cyclical” Cow Behavior • Resting Behavior – lowest % stall use one hour post-milking • high % at feeding area – sharp % increase during next few hours – high % during night and early morning hours Source: Overton, 2003
  19. 19. 09:12 am
  20. 20. 14:04 pm Heat Stress also affects resting behavior
  21. 21. Don’t be fooled by overstocking
  22. 22. Physical Freestall Components • Dimensions • Structure • Stall Bed • Bedding BODY SPACE HEAD SPACE LUNGE SPACE
  23. 23. Suggested Freestall Dimensions Animal Weight CF Stall Length OF Stall Length BL Length NR Length Stall Width Partition Height NR Height 900 - 1,100 90-96” 70-82” 64-66” 62-64” 41-43” 42-44” 42-44” 1,100- 1,300 96-102” 80-86” 66-68” 64-66” 43-45” 44-46” 44-46” 1,300- 1,500 102-108” 90-96” 68-70” 66-68” 45-48” 46-48” 46-48” 1,500- 1,700 108- 114” 96-102” 70-72” 68-70” 48-52” 48-52” 48-52” Source: Graves, McFarland, Tyson & Wilson, 2005  Select dimensions for the largest cows in the group
  24. 24. Perching Excessive Standing Improper Neck Rail Position
  25. 25. ? a b c a2 + b2 = c2 Neck Rail Position
  26. 26. ? a b c b2 = c2 - a2 Neck Rail Position
  27. 27. Neck Rail Position  Position for the largest cows in the group
  28. 28. Brisket Locator Position  Discourages forward movement when resting  Adequate body space for comfortable resting  Position for the largest cows in the group
  29. 29. ‘Restless’ Posture
  30. 30. ‘Restful’ Posture
  31. 31. Caregiver Responsibility Stall Grooming Bedding Addition
  32. 32. Feed Access & Availability
  33. 33. Feeding Space • Lactating cows – All-at-once: 27 - 30”/ hd – TMR: 18”/hd • Good access & time • Dry cows – All-at-once: 27 - 30”/ hd • Post-fresh cows – All-at-once: 27 - 30”/ hd
  34. 34. cow alley cow alley feed delivery alley 21 freestalls 21 freestalls 21 freestalls 21 freestalls cow alley cow alley feed delivery alley 34 freestalls 13 freestalls 13 freestalls 12 freestalls 12 freestalls 2-row vs. 3-row Freestall Shelter Comparison 2-row freestall: ~ 27”to 30” per stall 3-row freestall: ~ 19”to 20” per stall
  35. 35. cow alley cow alley feed delivery alley 21 freestalls 21 freestalls 21 freestalls 21 freestalls cow alley cow alley feed delivery alley 34 freestalls 13 freestalls 13 freestalls 12 freestalls 12 freestalls 2-row vs. 3-row Freestall Shelter Comparison Crossovers every 60 to 80 feet
  36. 36. • Post & Rail – 48” high – 8” to 12” forward Feed Barrier Cows willing to exert 500 lbs. pressure to eat - 225 lbs. causes tissue damage
  37. 37. Feed Barrier • Headlocks 4” to 6”
  38. 38. Good Access to Feed • Feed available 21 hours/day • TMR delivered 2 times/day • Target for 3% refusal • Bunk density < 100% • ½ hour push ups for 2 hours post-feeding – Focus on when, not how often Source: Grant, 2014
  39. 39. Group Housing Water Access • 2 water stations per group (minimum) • 2” to 4” accessible trough perimeter per cow • Allow multiple cows to drink at same time
  40. 40. Water Station Location “Cows should be no further than 50 feet from water” - J. Spain, University of Missouri W W W
  41. 41. Time Away From Pen • Can limit: – Resting time – Feeding time – Access to feed Goal: Less than 3 h/d
  42. 42. Time Away From Pen • 3 vs. 6 hours per day (Matzke, 2003) – ~ 2.5 to 4 h/d change in rest – ~ 5 to 8 lbs/d change in milk • Lameness prevalence in productive herds highly associated with greater time outside pen (Espejo and Endres, 2007) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Changeinrest(h/d) andmilk(lb/d) Cows Heifers Rest Milk
  43. 43. Signs of Heat Stress in Dairy Cattle • Rectal temperature above 102.5oF • Respiration rates over 80 breaths per minute • DMI & milk production drops 10% Source: Shearer, Bray & Bucklin
  44. 44. “SAAWW” to Reduce Heat Stress • Shade – Natural – Artificial • Air – Air exchange – Air movement • Water – Drinking – Evaporative cooling
  45. 45. Rumination Behavior Overcrowding -10 to 20% Mixed parity pens -19% Excessive headlock time -14%8 to 9 h/d Heat Stress -10 to 22%
  46. 46. Source: Grant, 2006
  47. 47. Thank you! Questions?

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