Effect of separation at weaning on the activity of cows and calves reared in a cow-calf contact system measured with accelerometer sensors

S.E. McPherson, L. Riaboff*, O. Dissanayake, A. Sinnott, P. Cunningham, E. Kennedy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

One welfare challenge of dairy cow-calf contact (CCC) rearing systems is the separation of the bonded cow-calf pair at weaning. Here, activity of 14 cow-calf pairs in 3 different CCC systems (no contact (control, CT), 4 pairs; part-time contact (PT), 5 pairs; full-time contact (FT), 5 pairs) was investigated. Each animal was equipped with a 3D-accelerom-eter (sampling rate: 12.5 Hz) attached to a neck-collar from two months pre-separation to one month post-separation. For each animal, the magnitude of the acceleration was calculated and segmented into 10-minutes windows from which six accelerometer features were computed. Each feature was modeled according to the treatment (CT, FT, PT), phase (pre-separation, separation, post-separation), interaction, and animal as a random effect. ANOVA and Tukey’s pairwise comparison test were applied. Overall, FT calves expressed more high energy expenditure behaviors and activity peaks than CT calves (p < 0.05). More high intensity behaviors were expressed in post-separation both for FT and PT calves (p < 0.05) but the trend observed from pre-separation to separation phase was different depending on the treatment (interaction; p < 0.05). For cows, higher overall activity (p < 0.05), more intense behaviors (p < 0.05) and more activity peaks (p < 0.05) were observed after separation compared to pre-separation, regardless of treatment. Ongoing experiments should help to link activity change and distress in order to propose recommendations in CCC systems.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPrecision Livestock Farming 2022 - Papers Presented at the 10th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming, ECPLF 2022
EditorsDaniel Berckmans, Maciej Oczak, Michael Iwersen, Karen Wagener
PublisherEuropean Association for Precision Livestock Farming
Pages64-72
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9788396536006
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event10th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming, ECPLF 2022 - Vienna, Austria
Duration: 29 Aug 20222 Sept 2022

Publication series

NamePrecision Livestock Farming 2022 - Papers Presented at the 10th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming, ECPLF 2022

Conference

Conference10th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming, ECPLF 2022
Country/TerritoryAustria
CityVienna
Period29/08/222/09/22

Keywords

  • activity
  • Cow-calf contact rearing system
  • distress
  • wearable 3D-accelerometer

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