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Tufvesson, Carina, 2021. Effects of cow-calf contact on feed intake, milk production and energy balance in dairy cows in early lactation. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Animal Nutrition and Management

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Abstract

The objective of this study was to compare the production level, feed intake and energy balance in early lactation of non-suckled cows against cows in a cow-driven cow-calf contact (CCC) system. CCC systems have become interesting to evaluate as they are thought to provide a more natural behaviour for both the cow and calf, several studies have reported higher growth and better health in calves kept in these systems. Reports on how the cows’ production and health are affected are fewer with varying results and often dependent on the type of contact system, type of feed and feeding management. There is also a need to evaluate potential difference in milking techniques, as the majority of reports are based on conventional machine milking and not from automatic milking systems (AMS). The production level on a farm is highly dependent on the animal’s welfare and a high feed intake supporting high production and energy status, therefor, the relationship between these factors are interesting to evaluate in a whole day contact system.

Twenty-two treatment and nineteen control cows in different parities (12 vs. 6 first parity, 4 vs. 3 second parity, 6 vs. 7 older cows in treatment and control groups respectively), were included in the study between 4 and 50 days in milk (DIM). Daily observations of feed intake, feeding behaviour, milk yield from an automatic milking system (AMS) and body condition score (BCS) was collected, milk samples were taken every fortnight for analysing milk composition and blood samples were taken twice a week during the first two weeks postpartum for evaluation of non-esterified fatty acids. All cows were feed ad libitum of roughage from automatic feeders which enabled continuous recordings of the time spent eating and amount of eaten feed for each individual. Number of meals per day, visit duration, meal size, feeding rate and dry matter intake (DMI) was compared in order to study the feeding patterns between the two treatments. The results suggest that feed intake was similar in both treatments, while the treatment group had a more efficient feeding pattern. Treatment cows had fewer visits per day, longer meal durations, bigger meals, higher feeding rates and longer intervals between feedings. Harvested milk yield was significantly lower in the treatment group due to calf’s milk intake, however, when estimating the energy corrected milk (ECM) (based on the energy mobilization) both treatments had a similar milk production. The BCS was more stable in the treatment group compared to the control cows, also non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) values were lower in this group, indicating the that the control group was less able to adapt their feed intake to the lactation during this period. The study period included in this thesis was short and occurred during early lactation, therefor it will be important for future studies to investigate the entire lactation to confirm these findings and get a better picture of the cow’s performance in these whole day CCC systems.

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Syftet med denna studie var att jämföra produktionsnivån, foderintaget samt energibalansen i tidig laktation mellan kor i ett ko-kalvsystem med kor som enbart mjölkas. Intresset att utvärdera ko-kalvsystem har ökat då systemen anses ge möjlighet till ett mer naturligt beteende hos både ko och kalv, exempelvis vid digivning. Flera studier har rapporterat om högre tillväxt och förbättrad hälsa hos kalvar som vistats tillsammans med modern och haft möjlighet att dia (Bar-Peled et al. 1997; Meyer et al. 2006; Johnsen et al. 2016), däremot är de rapporterade effekterna på kons produktion få och ofta varierande då det finns flera aspekter som kan skilja sig åt i dessa system. Produktionsnivån på en mjölkgård är i hög grad beroende av en god djurhälsa och ett högt foderintag som stimulerar en hög mjölkavkastning utan att påverka energibalansen, därmed är det av intresse att undersöka dessa aspekter i ett ko-kalvsystem.

I studien inkluderades 22 behandlingskor och 19 kontrollkor i varierande laktationsnummer (12 vs. 6 förstakalvare, 4 vs. 3 andrakalvare, 6 vs. 7 äldre kor i behandlings- respektive kontrollgruppen), studien fortgick från dag fyra i laktationen till och med dag femtio. Dagliga observationer av foderintag, foderintagsmönster, mjölkavkastning från ett automatiskt mjölkningssystem (AMS) och hull samlades in tillsammans med mjölkprover varannan vecka samt blodprover som togs under fyra tillfällen första och andra veckan efter kalvning. Samtliga kor hade fri tillgång på grovfoder från automatiska fodertråg, dessa möjliggjorde att kontinuerliga data på foderintag kunde samlas in under hela försöket. Antal måltider per dag, besökstid, storleken på måltiden, äthastighet samt intaget av foder jämfördes mellan behandlingarna för att studera eventuella skillnader i foderintagsbeteendet. Resultatet tyder på att foderintaget var snarlikt i båda behandlingarna, dock antyder resultaten att behandlingskorna hade ett mer effektivt foderbeetende. Behandlingsgruppen åt färre måltider per dag, målen varade under en längre tid, de hade ett längre intervall mellan måltiderna hade en högre äthastighet. Mängden mjölk till mjölkningsroboten var signifikant lägre i behandlingsgruppen på grund av kalvarnas mjölkintag. Dock fanns ingen skillnad mellan grupperna i uppskattad energi korrigerad mjölk (ECM) (som baserats på energimobiliseringen). Behandlingskorna hade ett mer stabilt hull vilket bekräftades med lägre nivåer av icke-förestrade fettsyror (NEFA) i blodet jämfört med kontrollkorna, detta indikerar att kontrollkorna kan haft det svårare att anpassa foderintaget efter laktationen vid övergången från dräktighet till laktation. Studiens tidsperiod var kort och inkluderade endast de första sju veckorna i laktationen, framtida studier bör studera hela laktationen för att bekräfta resultaten i denna studie samt få en tydligare bild av hela laktationen och kornas produktion i ko-kalvsystem.

Main title:Effects of cow-calf contact on feed intake, milk production and energy balance in dairy cows in early lactation
Authors:Tufvesson, Carina
Supervisor:Agenäs, Sigrid and Ferneborg, Sabine
Examiner:Lindberg, Mikaela
Series:UNSPECIFIED
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2021
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:VY008 Agriculture Programme - Animal Science, 300.0hp
Supervising department:(VH) > Dept. of Animal Nutrition and Management
Keywords:Cow-calf contact system, dairy cow, suckling, feed intake, feeding pattern, milk production, energy balance
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-s-17224
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-s-17224
Subjects:Animal husbandry
Animal physiology - Nutrition
Animal physiology - Reproduction
Language:English
Deposited On:20 Sep 2021 07:06
Metadata Last Modified:21 Sep 2021 01:02

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