Interplay between productive traits, the social rank, and the cow’s stability in the order of entrance to the milking parlour

Einar Vargas-Bello-Pérez*, Javiera Bastías-Ruz, Paula Toro-Mujica, Dayane Lemos Teixeira, Daniel Enriquez-Hidalgo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate whether social rank and stability in the order of entrance to the milking parlour are associated with production traits. The study was conducted on a dairy farm where cows (n = 215) were managed in three groups according to lactation stage (Group 1: 78 cows 0-100 DIM; Group 2: 65 cows 101-200 DIM; and Group 3: 72 cows >200 DIM). Social rank (SR) was calculated from observations made from agonistic behaviour performed at the water troughs and feed bunks of each pen (n = 3). The animals were classified in 3 levels of dominance based on at least 5 clear interactions, resulting in: 61 dominant, 75 intermediate and 69 subordinate cows based on SR. Stability in the order of entry was estimated as the standard deviation of the entry position. SR was weakly correlated to milk yield, urea and protein content in milk. The results showed that stable cows had higher milk production and entered the milking parlour after the non-stable animals. Stability in the order of entry to the milking parlour was not affected by social rank. Overall, the use of milking facilities appears to be associated with production traits rather than social rank
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Sep 2020

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