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Behaviour of dairy heifers during adaptation to milking

, : Behaviour of dairy heifers during adaptation to milking. Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production 57(0): 105-108

Effects of prior handling on behaviour of heifers at milking was studied in 42 Friesian heifers (reared on nurse cows, Herd A) and 36 monozygotic twins (calfeteria-reared, Herd B). Herd A heifers were allocated to 3 treatments: No Handling (N) - no handling or parlour experience; Limited Handling (L) - moved through the parlour during two sessions; or Familiarized (F) - 14 sessions during which animals were tamed, moved through the parlour and handled around the udder. Herd B heifers were allocated to N or F only. Behaviour at various stages of milking was observed during the first 14 milkings. Despite significant variation between individuals, all Herd A heifers significantly decreased moves and kicks from Period 1 (milkings 1-7) to Period 2 (milkings 8-14), and improved milk letdown but treatments were not significantly different at the various stages of milkings. However in Herd B, pre-milking handling and experience of the milking environment consistently reduced the frequency of adverse responses by heifers at most stages of milking.

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