Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The eliminative behaviour of dairy cows at pasture and in different housing systems and the potential for adjustment through training
Author: Whistance, Lindsay Kay
ISNI:       0000 0001 3566 7137
Awarding Body: Harper Adams University College
Current Institution: Harper Adams University
Date of Award: 2007
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Experiments were conducted to investigate cattle behaviour patterns at the time of elimination, whether this is affected by housing type or yield status or if behaviour can be manipulated to improve cleanliness levels during the housing period. Study 1 compared the eliminative behaviour of four groups of cows within and between a straw yard and a cubicle system. Intentional avoidance, where a cow moved away from excreta and where the behaviour that she engaged in pre-defaecation was resumed without her engaging in a different activity, was highest in cows in the straw yard. Cows demonstrating no avoidance of excreta, in which case they either remained lying, or lay do'wn without moving away, were mostly in the cubicle system or in the straw yard if they were high yielding. In study 2, grazing cows showed higher levels of movement away from fresh excreta and avoidance of excreta occurred throughout in all cows. The predominant behaviour was standing to eliminate and then moving forward. Walking whilst eliminating occurred when cows were simultaneously highly motivated to perform a second activity, such as catching up with herd mates or going to drink. Caives (study 3) and heifers (study 4) were trained to recognise where they defaecated or urinated using clicker training, with correct behaviour being reinforced with sweetened milk or concentrates. Five calves were removed from training with health problems but all of the remaining study animals (calves = 5; heifers = 13) successfully associated the offering of a reward with an act of elimination. Shaping the behaviour to only eliminate on concrete was not possible for animals of either age and appeared to be linked to the ineffectiveness of substrate type as a cue in training and to individual differences in behaviour patterns. It is concluded that cows show avoidance of faeces in both grazing and housed environments, particularly the former. They can be trained to recognise when they eliminate but it was not possible to train them to void in a concreted area of a building, which could be more easily cleaned than their bedded area.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Dairy cattle--Behaviour ; Eliminative behaviour ; Defecation in cattle