The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of 2 feed barrier systems on feeding and social behavior of dairy cows. Forty-eight lactating Holstein cows were subjected to each of 2 treatments in a cross-over design. The treatments were 2 types of feed-line barriers: 1) post-and-rail, and 2) headlock. Time-lapse video was used to quantify the feeding behavior and incidence of aggressive displacements of the cows at the feed bunk. Average daily feeding time did not differ when cows used the headlock barrier compared with the post-and-rail barrier. However, there were certain changes in feeding time during periods of peak feeding activity: cows that had lower feeding times relative to group mates when using the post-and-rail barrier showed more similar feeding times to group mates when using the headlock barrier. There were 21% fewer displacements at the feed bunk when cows accessed feed by the headlock barrier compared with the post-and-rail barrier. These results suggest that using a headlock barrier reduces aggression at the feed bunk and improves access to feed for socially subordinate cows during peak feeding periods.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank the staff and students at The University of British Columbia's Dairy Education and Research Centre and the University's Animal Welfare Program. In particular we thank Kiyomi Ito for her help with the video analysis. The project was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada , through the Industrial Research Chair in Animal Welfare, and by contributions from the Dairy Farmers of Canada, the BC Dairy Foundation, the BC SPCA, members of the BC Veterinary Medical Association , and many other donors listed on the Animal Welfare website at http://www.agsci.ubc.ca/animalwelfare .
- Dairy cow
- Feed barrier
- Feeding behavior