Can access to an automated grooming brush and/or a mirror reduce stress of dairy cows kept in social isolation?

Roi Mandel*, Margret L. Wenker, Kees van Reenen, Nina M. Keil, Edna Hillmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

In dairy farming, social isolation of cattle is commonly practiced for husbandry procedures such as artificial insemination, claw trimming and at times, for provision of medical treatment. When isolated, cows express physiological and behavioural signs of stress, such as elevated heart rate, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical activity and increased vocalisation rate. The aim of this study was to examine whether enriching the environment of the isolation pen using both tactile (i.e. an automated grooming brush) and visual (i.e. a mirror) stimulation could alleviate stress induced in socially isolated dairy cows. Eighteen cows (9 lactating and 9 dry cows) were subjected to four isolation conditions of 30 min each; isolation in the presence of a mirror, in the presence of an automated grooming brush, in the presence of both a mirror and an automated grooming brush, and in a non-enriched environment (without brush and mirror) that served as a control condition. Physiological (heart rate and heart rate variability) and behavioural indicators of stress (locomotion, vocalizations, attempts to escape the isolation pen and ear position of the cows) were measured during three phases throughout the isolation period (0–5 min, 10–15 min, 20–25 min). Our results show that, first, the heart rate of cows kept in social isolation, as well as the time cows spent in locomotion and exploration of the pen, decreased throughout the isolation period, regardless of treatment. Second, the presence of an automated grooming brush, a mirror or both an automated grooming brush and mirror in the isolation pen was not associated with reduced indicators of stress (physiological and behavioural measures) compared to the non-enriched environment. The results of our study are not in agreement with the findings of previous studies showing reduced levels of stress among socially isolated heifers/cows kept in the presence of visual enrichment (i.e. mirror/picture of a conspecific), and illustrate the need to further explore practices to reduce stress during social isolation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume211
Early online date5 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

Fingerprint

Grooming
Social Isolation
grooming (animal behavior)
dairy cows
cows
Heart Rate
heart rate
Locomotion
vocalization
locomotion
Hoof and Claw
Artificial Insemination
Touch
Agriculture
Ear
medical treatment
claws
artificial insemination
dairy farming
heifers

Keywords

  • Brush
  • Environmental enrichment
  • Mirror
  • Social isolation
  • Social separation

Cite this

@article{49805d7f0a284c628888a085a6410b21,
title = "Can access to an automated grooming brush and/or a mirror reduce stress of dairy cows kept in social isolation?",
abstract = "In dairy farming, social isolation of cattle is commonly practiced for husbandry procedures such as artificial insemination, claw trimming and at times, for provision of medical treatment. When isolated, cows express physiological and behavioural signs of stress, such as elevated heart rate, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical activity and increased vocalisation rate. The aim of this study was to examine whether enriching the environment of the isolation pen using both tactile (i.e. an automated grooming brush) and visual (i.e. a mirror) stimulation could alleviate stress induced in socially isolated dairy cows. Eighteen cows (9 lactating and 9 dry cows) were subjected to four isolation conditions of 30 min each; isolation in the presence of a mirror, in the presence of an automated grooming brush, in the presence of both a mirror and an automated grooming brush, and in a non-enriched environment (without brush and mirror) that served as a control condition. Physiological (heart rate and heart rate variability) and behavioural indicators of stress (locomotion, vocalizations, attempts to escape the isolation pen and ear position of the cows) were measured during three phases throughout the isolation period (0–5 min, 10–15 min, 20–25 min). Our results show that, first, the heart rate of cows kept in social isolation, as well as the time cows spent in locomotion and exploration of the pen, decreased throughout the isolation period, regardless of treatment. Second, the presence of an automated grooming brush, a mirror or both an automated grooming brush and mirror in the isolation pen was not associated with reduced indicators of stress (physiological and behavioural measures) compared to the non-enriched environment. The results of our study are not in agreement with the findings of previous studies showing reduced levels of stress among socially isolated heifers/cows kept in the presence of visual enrichment (i.e. mirror/picture of a conspecific), and illustrate the need to further explore practices to reduce stress during social isolation.",
keywords = "Brush, Environmental enrichment, Mirror, Social isolation, Social separation",
author = "Roi Mandel and Wenker, {Margret L.} and {van Reenen}, Kees and Keil, {Nina M.} and Edna Hillmann",
year = "2019",
month = "2",
doi = "10.1016/j.applanim.2018.12.007",
language = "English",
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pages = "1--8",
journal = "Applied Animal Behaviour Science",
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Can access to an automated grooming brush and/or a mirror reduce stress of dairy cows kept in social isolation? / Mandel, Roi; Wenker, Margret L.; van Reenen, Kees; Keil, Nina M.; Hillmann, Edna.

In: Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Vol. 211, 02.2019, p. 1-8.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Can access to an automated grooming brush and/or a mirror reduce stress of dairy cows kept in social isolation?

AU - Mandel, Roi

AU - Wenker, Margret L.

AU - van Reenen, Kees

AU - Keil, Nina M.

AU - Hillmann, Edna

PY - 2019/2

Y1 - 2019/2

N2 - In dairy farming, social isolation of cattle is commonly practiced for husbandry procedures such as artificial insemination, claw trimming and at times, for provision of medical treatment. When isolated, cows express physiological and behavioural signs of stress, such as elevated heart rate, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical activity and increased vocalisation rate. The aim of this study was to examine whether enriching the environment of the isolation pen using both tactile (i.e. an automated grooming brush) and visual (i.e. a mirror) stimulation could alleviate stress induced in socially isolated dairy cows. Eighteen cows (9 lactating and 9 dry cows) were subjected to four isolation conditions of 30 min each; isolation in the presence of a mirror, in the presence of an automated grooming brush, in the presence of both a mirror and an automated grooming brush, and in a non-enriched environment (without brush and mirror) that served as a control condition. Physiological (heart rate and heart rate variability) and behavioural indicators of stress (locomotion, vocalizations, attempts to escape the isolation pen and ear position of the cows) were measured during three phases throughout the isolation period (0–5 min, 10–15 min, 20–25 min). Our results show that, first, the heart rate of cows kept in social isolation, as well as the time cows spent in locomotion and exploration of the pen, decreased throughout the isolation period, regardless of treatment. Second, the presence of an automated grooming brush, a mirror or both an automated grooming brush and mirror in the isolation pen was not associated with reduced indicators of stress (physiological and behavioural measures) compared to the non-enriched environment. The results of our study are not in agreement with the findings of previous studies showing reduced levels of stress among socially isolated heifers/cows kept in the presence of visual enrichment (i.e. mirror/picture of a conspecific), and illustrate the need to further explore practices to reduce stress during social isolation.

AB - In dairy farming, social isolation of cattle is commonly practiced for husbandry procedures such as artificial insemination, claw trimming and at times, for provision of medical treatment. When isolated, cows express physiological and behavioural signs of stress, such as elevated heart rate, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical activity and increased vocalisation rate. The aim of this study was to examine whether enriching the environment of the isolation pen using both tactile (i.e. an automated grooming brush) and visual (i.e. a mirror) stimulation could alleviate stress induced in socially isolated dairy cows. Eighteen cows (9 lactating and 9 dry cows) were subjected to four isolation conditions of 30 min each; isolation in the presence of a mirror, in the presence of an automated grooming brush, in the presence of both a mirror and an automated grooming brush, and in a non-enriched environment (without brush and mirror) that served as a control condition. Physiological (heart rate and heart rate variability) and behavioural indicators of stress (locomotion, vocalizations, attempts to escape the isolation pen and ear position of the cows) were measured during three phases throughout the isolation period (0–5 min, 10–15 min, 20–25 min). Our results show that, first, the heart rate of cows kept in social isolation, as well as the time cows spent in locomotion and exploration of the pen, decreased throughout the isolation period, regardless of treatment. Second, the presence of an automated grooming brush, a mirror or both an automated grooming brush and mirror in the isolation pen was not associated with reduced indicators of stress (physiological and behavioural measures) compared to the non-enriched environment. The results of our study are not in agreement with the findings of previous studies showing reduced levels of stress among socially isolated heifers/cows kept in the presence of visual enrichment (i.e. mirror/picture of a conspecific), and illustrate the need to further explore practices to reduce stress during social isolation.

KW - Brush

KW - Environmental enrichment

KW - Mirror

KW - Social isolation

KW - Social separation

U2 - 10.1016/j.applanim.2018.12.007

DO - 10.1016/j.applanim.2018.12.007

M3 - Article

VL - 211

SP - 1

EP - 8

JO - Applied Animal Behaviour Science

JF - Applied Animal Behaviour Science

SN - 0168-1591

ER -