Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometeorology
Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometeorology
Research Article Open Access

Effect of different rearing condition on early age in the maze, open-field, and aversive behaviours in the dairy cow during the first lactation

Jan Broucek, Michal Uhrincat, Peter Kisac, Anton Hanus

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The aim of the study was to tested hypotheses that the primiparous cow’s behaviour is impacted by the method of rearing from the second day of life to weaning. 53 Holstein primiparous cows were used. They were reared in different ways during milk nutrition. Calf-heifers were assigned to one of five rearing groups on the second day after having nursed their mothers for 24 hours: H) hutch; HA) hutch, from 7 days pen with an automated drinking machine (ADM); MA) with mother, from 7 days pen with an ADM; MH) with mother, from 7 days hutch; MN) with mother, from 4 days with nursing cows. After weaning (56 days), all heifers were kept in group pens, after calving in free-stall housing. Maze learning ability was tested in the third month of lactation. In the 5th month, cows were observed in the open-field, in the seventh month they were subjected to an aversion test (AT). Group MN was the slowest in solving all tasks and HA the fastest.  Differences were recorded among groups in the first-day evaluation (P < 0.01).  No differences in open field tests were found. In the AT traversing, the slowest were groups H and HA, the fastest MH and MA (P < 0.01).  The time of the first return was different (P < 0.001). On the first day, the most vocalized cows of the MN group (P < 0.05). The results show that the method used to rear heifers may have a significant impact on their maze and aversive behaviour.


dairy cattle, ethological test, weaning


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