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Eliminative behaviour of dairy cows

Whistance, Lindsay (2009) Eliminative behaviour of dairy cows. In: Vaarst, Mette and Roderick, Stephen (Eds.) CORE Organic project nr: 1903 - Aniplan. Workshop report - The process of researching animal health and welfare planning. Core Organic project Series, no. 1903-2. Aarhus Universitet - Faculty of Agricultural Sciences , Departement of Animal Health and Bioscience, pp. 10-22.

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Document available online at: http://aniplan.coreportal.org/gfx/ANIPLAN-proceedings-2-Norway.pdf


Faeces plays a prominant role in the transmission of three major diseases in housed cows, namely, lameness, mastitis and Johne’s disease (Amory et al., 2006; Hughes, 1999; Anon., 2002). Cows show no evidence of latrine behaviour and because their eliminative patterns appear to be random, it is assumed that they have little control over it and that they make no attempt to avoid bodily contamination with excreta (e.g., Hafez and Schein, 1962). The cleanliness of housed cattle is therefore considered to be solely a management issue.
At pasture, cattle are known to strongly avoid grazing near dung patches where faeces and the surrounding contaminated grass act as reservoirs for parasites (Marten and Donker, 1964a;b). Michel (1955) found bovine grazing to be highly selective and, when tested, forage selected by cattle contained fewer lungworm larvae than random samples. An area of forage up to six times greater than that covered by faeces can be rejected (Phillips, 1993).
There appears to be an odd dichotomy between the well-documented strong aversion to grazing near faeces as a means of controlling parasite intake and the apparent lack of regard for bodily cleanliness when contamination with faeces also has real health consequences for the cow, suggesting that more research is required to understand if and why this dichotomy exists. Previous studies have looked at the posture of the cow when voiding (Aland et al., 2002), the daily pattern of faeces deposition in different housing systems (Brantas, 1968; Seo et al., 2003; Aland et al., 2002; Hörning and Kramer, 2003), and their lying on clean, freshly-grazed grass when at pasture (Broom et al., 1975). However, relatively little is yet known about whether cattle show any intentional avoidance of bodily contact with excreta or not, or whether there are any specific environmental, social or individual stimuli which influence eliminative behaviour.

EPrint Type:Report chapter
Subjects: Food systems > Food security, food quality and human health
Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Animal husbandry > Breeding and genetics
Animal husbandry > Feeding and growth
Research affiliation: European Union > CORE Organic > ANIPLAN
Denmark > ICROFS - International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems
Related Links:http://aniplan.coreportal.org/gfx/ANIPLAN-proceedings-2-Norway.pdf
Deposited By: Holme, Ms. Mette
ID Code:15916
Deposited On:29 Jul 2009
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:39
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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