Aim of the present study was to identify potential benefits that can affect positive welfare. We evaluated animal welfare in 20 loose housing dairy cattle farms (6 on permanent litter, 14 in cubicles), based on positive indicators of welfare and animals’ emotional state (feeding and resting synchronisation, rumination during resting, comfortable lying postures, no visible eye white, relaxed ear postures). Potential benefits in terms of housing, feeding and management were then related to these variables (Mann-Whitney U test). Qualitative Behaviour Assessment (QBA) was also carried out and analysed by Principal Component Analysis to explore the effect of factors that were not evenly distributed in our sample (access to pasture, presence of paddock or environmental enrichments, automatic milking systems, number of feed distributions). When hay was included in the diet, higher feeding synchronisation (93.7±1.6 vs 52.2±4.7%; P<0.01), percentage of cows with relaxed ear postures (35.8±5.4 vs 15.5±2.1%; P<0.01) and percentage of cows with no visible eye white (55.9±17.0 vs 36.6±4.1%; n.s.), were recorded. A higher level of feeding synchronisation was observed also when the feeding places/cow ratio was >1 (72.1±9.9 vs 53.8±5.8%), although differences were not significant (P=0.14). Permanent litter had a more positive effect than cubicles on comfort at resting, with a significantly higher percentage of ruminating cows (65.8±10.2 vs 34.2±3.7%; P<0.01), a higher percentage of cows with no visible eye white (55.6±9.9 vs 33.1±3.7%; P<0.05) and a higher percentage of cows in a more comfortable posture with stretched legs (14.3±5.1 vs 5.6±1.6%; P=0.09). No significant differences on comfort at resting were found depending on the space available either in permanent litter, or in cubicles. QBA could not highlight any trend in farm distribution depending on the considered factors, except for the only farm that gave access to pasture, which had the highest scores on PC1, indicating a positive emotional state. We suggest to consider permanent litter, a feeding places/cow ratio >1, hay in the diet and access to pasture as benefits for enhancing positive animal welfare.

Benefits for achieving positive dairy cattle welfare / S. Mattiello, S. Celozzi, F.M. Soli, L. Bava, M. Battini (ANNUAL MEETING OF THE EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION FOR ANIMAL PRODUCTION). - In: Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science[s.l] : EAAP, 2022 Sep 06. - ISBN 978-90-8686-385-3. - pp. 352-352 (( Intervento presentato al 73. convegno Annual Meeting tenutosi a Porto nel 2022.

Benefits for achieving positive dairy cattle welfare

S. Mattiello
Primo
;
S. Celozzi
Secondo
;
L. Bava
Penultimo
;
M. Battini
Ultimo
2022

Abstract

Aim of the present study was to identify potential benefits that can affect positive welfare. We evaluated animal welfare in 20 loose housing dairy cattle farms (6 on permanent litter, 14 in cubicles), based on positive indicators of welfare and animals’ emotional state (feeding and resting synchronisation, rumination during resting, comfortable lying postures, no visible eye white, relaxed ear postures). Potential benefits in terms of housing, feeding and management were then related to these variables (Mann-Whitney U test). Qualitative Behaviour Assessment (QBA) was also carried out and analysed by Principal Component Analysis to explore the effect of factors that were not evenly distributed in our sample (access to pasture, presence of paddock or environmental enrichments, automatic milking systems, number of feed distributions). When hay was included in the diet, higher feeding synchronisation (93.7±1.6 vs 52.2±4.7%; P<0.01), percentage of cows with relaxed ear postures (35.8±5.4 vs 15.5±2.1%; P<0.01) and percentage of cows with no visible eye white (55.9±17.0 vs 36.6±4.1%; n.s.), were recorded. A higher level of feeding synchronisation was observed also when the feeding places/cow ratio was >1 (72.1±9.9 vs 53.8±5.8%), although differences were not significant (P=0.14). Permanent litter had a more positive effect than cubicles on comfort at resting, with a significantly higher percentage of ruminating cows (65.8±10.2 vs 34.2±3.7%; P<0.01), a higher percentage of cows with no visible eye white (55.6±9.9 vs 33.1±3.7%; P<0.05) and a higher percentage of cows in a more comfortable posture with stretched legs (14.3±5.1 vs 5.6±1.6%; P=0.09). No significant differences on comfort at resting were found depending on the space available either in permanent litter, or in cubicles. QBA could not highlight any trend in farm distribution depending on the considered factors, except for the only farm that gave access to pasture, which had the highest scores on PC1, indicating a positive emotional state. We suggest to consider permanent litter, a feeding places/cow ratio >1, hay in the diet and access to pasture as benefits for enhancing positive animal welfare.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/951563
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