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High-parity cows show cubicle preference

25 November 2021

Swedish research shows they prefer cubicles near feed, milking stations

A new study from researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences reveals that high parity dairy cows prefer occupying cubicles that are close to the feeding table and milking station. 

The precision livestock breeding project aims to improve both health and production in dairy cattle. 

Using sensors and tags mounted on neck collars, the researchers were able to follow the cows to see which positions they occupied throughout the barn. On average, dairy cows spend 11 hours each day lying down. Cows are highly motivated to lie down to sleep, rest and ruminate, which is why it's important to provide cubicles in easy-to-access position in the barn. 

Data from the study showed which cubicles were most popular, and which cows were using those cubicles, said researcher Anna Silvera.

The study aimed to see how cows spend their day on the farm. Researchers collaborated with dairy farmers in Sweden and The Netherlands. Using sensor technology, the researchers are collecting more data which they believe could be used to better design and manage modern barns. 

One of the observations has led to questions about cleanliness. That is, the cubicles that are used more become dirtier, which the researchers believe could cause problems with the spread of infection between the animals. To avoid the overuse of some cubicles over others, they suggest arranging them so that they are the same distance from the feeding table no matter where they are situated. 

Results from the paper could be used to evaluate other factors that influence cubicle choice, including bedding material used and cubicle design. 



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