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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #337722

Research Project: Improving Nutrient Use Efficiency and Mitigating Nutrient and Pathogen Losses from Dairy Production Systems

Location: Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research

Title: Effects of straw processing and pen stocking density on holstein dairy heifers: ii) behavior and hygiene

item Coblentz, Wayne
item AKINS, MATTHEW - University Of Wisconsin
item ESSER, NANCY - University Of Wisconsin
item Ogden, Robin

Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/6/2017
Publication Date: 6/25/2017
Citation: Coblentz, W.K., Akins, M.S., Esser, N.M., Ogden, R.K. 2017. Effects of straw processing and pen stocking density on holstein dairy heifers: ii) behavior and hygiene. Journal of Dairy Science. 100 (suppl. 2):300.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The effects of pen-stocking density and straw processing on the daily behavior traits and hygiene of Holstein dairy heifers housed in a freestall system are not understood. Our objective was to evaluate these factors in a trial with a 2 × 3 factorial arrangement of straw-processing (GOOD or POOR) and pen-stocking-density [100 (CONTROL), 125, or 150% of capacity] treatments. A total of 240 Holstein dairy heifers (410 ± 56.3 kg) were blocked by weight, and assigned to 24 experimental units (pens) with 4 pens/interactive treatment. Heifers were offered (ad-libitum) a TMR diet for 91 d that was comprised of alfalfa haylage, corn silage, and wheat straw; wheat straw was either processed through a 7.5-cm screen (GOOD; 46.0% NDF, 12.9% CP, 60.7% TDN) or not processed (POOR; 46.5% NDF, 12.6% CP, 60.0% TDN) prior to loading into the TMR mixer. Feed was dispersed at 1000 h daily, and simple pen counts were taken at 1300, 1600, 1900, 2200, 0100, and 0600 h. The percentage of heifers lying in freestalls within overstocked pens was greater than observed for CONTROL at 1900 h (43.0 vs. 31.3%; P < 0.001), but was greater (P = 0.012) for CONTROL at all subsequent evaluation times. Furthermore, the percentage of heifers lying in stalls was greater for the 125% compared to the 150% stocking rate at 0100 (68.8 vs. 61.3%; P = 0.009) and 0600 h (74.0 vs. 63.6%; P < 0.001). Heifers lying in alleys differed only at 0600 h, when overstocked pens were greater than CONTROL (6.8 vs. 0.1%; P < 0.001), and 150% was greater than 125% (9.8 vs. 3.8%; P < 0.001). The percentage of heifers eating differed only at 1900 h for comparisons of overstocked pens with CONTROL (35.0 vs. 43.6%; P < 0.001). Heifers inactively standing were greater (P = 0.005) for overstocked pens at 2200, 0100, and 0600 h, and greater (P = 0.022) at 150% compared to 125% at 0100 and 0600 h. Hygiene scores (1 = clean, 5 = badly soiled) for legs (2.1 to 2.3) and flanks (1.6 to 1.9) indicated heifers stayed acceptably clean, but the within-pen CV for these measures was greater (P = 0.045) for overstocked pens compared to CONTROL, suggesting hygiene scores were more variable without a freestall for each heifer.