Now that group housing is replacing individual crates, so that calves can lie, stand and walk on the pen floor, the quality of the floor for group-housed calves has become the focus of attention. The reaction of two groups of four calves to a double area of floor made from two materials (wooden slats and synthetic slats with a rubber coating) was examined round the clock for 5 days. The calves were switched between pens twice, and in each case the 5 day observation period was repeated. In all three phases all calves spent significantly more time (P < 0.01) lying on the wooden floor: on average 656 min day-1 compared with 294 min day-1 on the synthetic floor. The time spent in the standing/walking position on both floors, occurrence of slip incidents and self-maintenance behaviour did not differ significantly between floors. The observations on use of the pen floor for lying and for standing/walking in combination with feeding, plus observations on fouling of the floors with excreta suggest that future pen design could be functionally divided into lying and walking/eating areas.
|Journal||Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica Section A-Animal Science|
|Publication status||Published - 2002|