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Behaviour associated with feeding and milking of early lactation cows housed in an experimental automatic milking system


, : Behaviour associated with feeding and milking of early lactation cows housed in an experimental automatic milking system. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 46(1-2): 1-15

The successful integration of automated milking into the farm will depend partly on the behaviour of the cow. Diurnal patterns of behaviour and behaviour associated with the use of an automatic milking stall were recorded at 10-min intervals for 5 consecutive days for nine early lactation cows housed in a straw yard. The automatic milking stall was operational between 06:00 h and 0:00 h and was accessible through a selection/recognition stall on route to the forage feed area. Cows attending the feed area within 4 h of a previous milking were diverted directly to feed, by-passing the automatic stall. All cows attended the milking stall voluntarily, on average three times a day. Milking frequency was not consistent throughout the day and was related to diurnal patterns of feeding. Movement to and from milking was hesitant, with cows delaying at both entry and exit gates of the milking stall. A consistent milking order developed becoming more variable as the number of milkings per cow per day increased, associated with a similar reduction in synchrony for the maintenance behaviours. Daily activity budgets suggested accommodation to the system through conservation of feeding time and a decrease in lying time. Cows became accustomed to waiting to enter the stall as the experiment proceeded. In conclusion the cows adapted to using the automated milking stall at their own demand and pace which reduced efficiency and availability.

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Accession: 002763533

DOI: 10.1016/0168-1591(95)00628-1

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