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Electronic Journal of Polish Agricultural Universities (EJPAU) founded by all Polish Agriculture Universities presents original papers and review articles relevant to all aspects of agricultural sciences. It is target for persons working both in science and industry,regulatory agencies or teaching in agricultural sector. Covered by IFIS Publishing (Food Science and Technology Abstracts), ELSEVIER Science - Food Science and Technology Program, CAS USA (Chemical Abstracts), CABI Publishing UK and ALPSP (Association of Learned and Professional Society Publisher - full membership). Presented in the Master List of Thomson ISI.

Volume 14
Issue 4
Topic:
ELECTRONIC
JOURNAL OF
POLISH
AGRICULTURAL
UNIVERSITIES
. , EJPAU 14(4), #03.
Available Online: http://www.ejpau.media.pl/volume14/issue4/art-03.html


 

ABSTRACT

The zoometric measurements (height at withers and sidelong barrel length) were conducted on 54 cows of red-white colour, of a body mass > 500 kg maintained on one of dairy cattle farms located in south-western Poland. The three genotypic groups were examined: I (phf NL) – 19 cows of Polish Holstein-Friesian breed of Dutch bulls (fathers), II (phf USA) – 19 cows of American bulls, and III (ZR) – 16 cows of Polish Red-White breed. Then the size of bed boxes was designed for these, differing with genotype, cows. The size of beds calculated in the present study was compared to the values recommended in zootechnical literature and current law regulations. The beds on the analysed farm of dairy cattle fulfilled all mandatory standards concerning welfare and cross compliance rules.

Key words: .

INTRODUCTION

Keyserlingk et al. [11] pointed the key role of environmental factors in dairy cows welfare maintaining. According to these authors, the decisive role is played by: health, care manner and maintenance system close to natural living conditions. In modern maintenance systems, the assurance of conditions close to natural ones to animals in the most important task. Properly equipped and utilised free-stall cowsheds assure dairy cattle welfare in a better manner when compared to tether cowsheds [12]. In that system the cows are maintained in technological groups. They can move freely and fulfil behavioural needs.

The act of animal protection [5] emphasises especially the creation of the proper comfort of cows staying on bed sites. The welfare of dairy cows in free-stall maintenance system in bed boxes profitably influences their production and reproduction results, and health status, including mammary gland [9, 15, 16, 17].

Size of the bed and quality of bedding material may significantly influence the total time of cows lying during the day, what in a consequence decides the length of cows chewing period [10] and intensity of blood flow to an udder [14]. Thus, this favours the processes connected to milk secretion. Bed boxes are equipped with barriers protecting the cows and ensuring them the proper distance and comfort [4, 8]. German breeders maintain the cows, both hornless and those with horns, in bed boxes of a length of 280 and 300 cm respectively, and the width of 125 cm [8].

Longstanding zootechnical selection led to e.g. increase in body weight and calibre, and also milk yield in cattle of Polish Holstein-Friesian breed, while the surface of sites in traditional cowsheds constructed in 1970 s and 1980 s was not subject to changes. Therefore, numerous livestock objects need modernisation including adaptation of bed boxes size to minimal conditions of farm animals maintenance [6, 7]. It may be concluded from the authors observations that there are not equal requirements for all the animals, and each time the overall size of sites should be adjusted to specific needs of the animals of the given breed. For that reason the present study has been undertaken.

The aim of the study was to design the size of bed boxes for dairy cows differing with genotype.

MATERIAL AND METHODS

The calculations of bed boxes width and length and wall box were calculated using mathematical formulas demonstrated in Table 1 [2, 8 cited after Eilers 2006]. Mean values of bed box length and width on an analysed farm were 230 and 120 cm, respectively. Calculated in the present study sizes of beds for dairy cows were compared to values recommended in the zootechnic literature and obligatory law regulations.

Table 1. Formulas for the calculation of bed boxes size for cows

Box size

Acc. to Eilers (2006)

Acc. to Bartussek et al. (2002)

Width of bed box*, cm

WK** x 0.85

WK x 0.86

Length of bed, cm

(SDT*** x 1.11) + 20

(SDT x 0.92) + 21

Length of bed box, cm (wall box)

(SDT x 1.11) + 20 + 75(+ 10)

(SDT x 0.92) + 21 + (WK x 0.56)

Descroption – *size at axis, **WK – height at withers, ***SDT – sidelong barrel length

The sizes of bed boxes were calculated taking into consideration selected conformation features of dairy cows, i.e. height at withers and sidelong barrel length, maintained on large-scale dairy cattle farm situated in south-western part of Poland. Zoometric measurements of 54 cows were conducted (primiparous and multiparous ones) of red-white variety, of a body weight above 500 kg being at ≥ 7 month of pregnancy, maintained on the production sector of the farm. Zoometric measurements were conducted using zoometric stick according to the accepted zoometry rules. Height at withers was measured from the highest point of withers to the bedding, while the measurement of sidelong barrel length from external point of ischial tuberosity.

The experimental animals included three genotype (breed) groups: I (phf NL) – 19 cows of Polish Holstein-Friesian breed of Dutch bulls (fathers), II (phf USA) – 19 cows Polish Holstein-Friesian breed of American bulls, and III (ZR) – 16 cows of Polish Red-White breed. The material collected was subjected to statistical analysis.

The mean values, minimum and maximum ones, standard deviation and mean of 25% of maximum values of analysed features of cows conformation were calculated. Significance of differences between the means was determined with Duncan's test using Statistica ver. 9.0. software.

RESULTS

Mean size of dairy cows body utilised on analysed farm are presented in Table 2. It was observed that cows of domestic bull of ZR breed were significantly lower at withers (p ≤0.01) when compared to the cows at the same age of Dutch (by 6.7 cm) and American bulls (by 3.5 cm). Also within cows of phf breed the differences significant statistically (p ≤0.05) were noted between the daugthers of Dutch and American bulls in the case of height at withers (by 3.2 cm). Sidelong barrel length of cows of ZR breed was statistically significantly lower (p ≤0.01) when compared to cows at the same age of phf NL and phf USA breeds, by 8.0 and 5.0 cm, respectively.

Table 2. Mean values of body size (cm) of different genotype cows

Specification

Cows genotype

I – phf NL

II – phf USA

III – ZR

Mean height at withers, cm

Standard deviation

Mean barrel length

Standard deviation

142.9 Aa

3.1

168.7 A

7.1

139.7 Ab

3.1

165.7 A

6.7

136.2 B

4.4

160.7 B

8.2

Table 3 presents the dimension of bed boxes (in cm) for dairy cows of Holstein-Friesian breed of red-white variety of Dutch bulls (phf, NL). Mean values of height at withers of phf NL cows were 143 cm with deviations from 138 to 148 (10 cm difference), while sidelong barrel length was 168.7 cm with deviations from 154 to 180 cm (26 cm difference). Mean of 25% of maximum values for height at withers and sidelong barrel length was 146.6 and 176.8 cm, respectively.

Table 3. Ranges of bed boxes size (cm) for dairy cows of phf, NL breed

Size

Formulas

Minimum

Maximum

25% of maximum values

Height at withers

138

148

146.6

Sidelong barrel length

154

180

176.8

Required bed width

WK x 0.85*

117.3

125.8

124.6

WK x 0.86**

118.7

127.3

126.1

Required bed length

(SDT x 1.11) + 20*

190.9

219.8

216.2

(SDT x 0.92) + 21**

162.7

186.6

183.6

Required length of bed box (high wall box)

(SDT x 1.11) + 20 + 75*

265.9

294.8

291.2

(SDT x 0.92) + 21 + (WK x 0.56)**

240.0

269.5

265.7

Description (concerns to all the tables): *formulas acc. to Eilers (2006), **acc. to Bartussek et al. (2002)

Table 4 presents the dimension of bed boxes (in cm) for dairy cows of Holstein-Friesian breed of red-white variety of American bulls (phf, USA). Mean height at withers of phf USA cows was about 140 cm with deviations from 134 to 146 (12 cm difference), while sidelong barrel length was 165.7 cm with deviations from 154 to 175 cm (21 cm difference). Mean of 25% of maximum values for height at withers and sidelong barrel length was 143.8 and 173.0 cm, respectively.

Table 4. Ranges of bed boxes size (cm) for dairy cows of phf, USA breed

Size

Formulas

Minimum

Maximum

25% of maximum values

Height at withers

134

146

143.8

Sidelong barrel length

154

175

173

Required bed width

WK x 0.85*

113.9

124.1

122.2

WK x 0.86**

115.2

125.6

123.7

Required bed length

(SDT x 1.11) + 20

190.9

214.2

212.0

(SDT x 0.92) + 21

162.7

182.0

180.2

Required length of bed box (high wall box)

(SDT x 1.11) + 20 + 75

265.9

289.2

287.0

(SDT x 0.92) + 21 + (WK x 0.56)

237.7

263.8

260.7

Table 5 presents the range of bed boxes (in cm) for cows of Polish Red-White breed (ZR). Mean height at withers of ZR breed cows was136,2 cm with deviations from 126 to 144 (8 cm difference), while sidelong barrel length was 160.7 cm with deviations from 144 to 170 cm (26 cm difference). Mean of 25% of maximum values for height at withers and sidelong barrel length was 140.8 and 169.3 cm, respectively.

Table 5. Ranges of bed boxes size (cm) for dairy cows of phf, USA breed

Size

Formulas

Minimum

Maximum

25% of maximum values

Height at withers

126

144

140.7

Sidelong barrel length

144

170

169.7

Required bed width

WK x 0.85

107.1

122.4

119.6

WK x 0.86

108.4

123.8

121.1

Required bed length

(SDT x 1.11) + 20

179.8

208.7

208.4

(SDT x 0.92) + 21

153.5

177.4

177.2

Required length of bed box (high wall box)

(SDT x 1.11)+ 20 + 75

254.8

283.7

283.4

(SDT x 0.92)+ 21 + (WK x 0.56)

224.0

258.0

256.0

DISCUSSION

Depending on the standards applied, the considerable range between minimum and maximum values of length and width of bed boxes was observed. Conducted zoometric measurements of the cows examines demonstrated considerable ranges between the smallest and the biggest animals. For example, in Germany the optimal width of bed boxes determined on the basis of 25% of maximum mean values of height at withers and sidelong barrel length of cows of hf, Simmental and Brown breeds of average milk yield of 9 000 kg/year is 125 cm [8]. Sufficient length of double boxes situated opposite and wall boxes was 230 and 280 cm, respectively. The recommended length and width of bed boxes in domestic conditions for cows of a body weight of > 500 kg and pregnant heifers > 7th month of pregnancy was 220-230 and 115-120 cm, respectively [15 quoted after Winnicki et al. 2003].

Calculated in the present study size for beds for dairy cows are modestly bigger than the standards recommended [4, 15 quoted after Winnicki et al. 2003]. Presently (from 30.06.2011 r.), the mandatory size of length and width of separated beds for cows and pregnant heifers > 7th month of pregnancy maintained without a tether in a loose system are ≥ 210 and ≥ 110 cm, respectively [7]. British breeders [3] claim that the most profitable length of the site for Friesian cows, measured from the wall to the edge of a step is 220 cm, however should not be lower than 213 cm. The width of the site in turn, measured between midpoints of rungs forming the boxes should amount to 120-125 cm. The new law regulations concerning size of bed boxes for dairy cows will be in force in Switzerland since 1 August 2013 [1]. For multiparous cows of a mean height at withers at the level of 135 cm (± 5 cm) the length of boxes: wall and double situated opposite to each other, will be 240 and 220 cm, respectively, and their width - 120 cm.

When modernisation (designing) of beds for cows in a cowshed it is recommended to conduct zootechnical measurements of cows, and to take into account the welfare conditions according to cross compliance rules [12, 13]. Moreover, the breeding progress in the range of conformation features of dairy cattle should be taken into account, and thus a bit larger beds, of about 10%, are recommended in order to ensure the proper space for non-collision lying and standing up and animals getting on and off [8, 15]. It is commonly known, that since 1 January 2013 the conditions of farm animal welfare will be controlled by the employees of Veterinary Inspection and The Agency for Restructuring and Modernisation of Agriculture. The consequence of non-obeying of the cross-compliance rules will be suitable lowering of direct payments granted to farmers.

CONCLUSIONS

Based on the study conducted the following conclusions have been educed:

  1. Cows of a different performance types should not be maintained on a dairy cattle farm since there is a large variability in body size of animals of a given breed and also between the breeds.
  2. The sizes of bed boxes are determined by genotype and calibre of the animals; the highest surface of beds should be aimed at cows of Dutch origin, moderately smaller for cows - daughters of American bulls, while the lowest for cows of Polish Red-White breed.
  3. The sections with bed boxes of various surface (size) should be placed in rooms for cows, taking into consideration their genotype and calibre.
  4. While constructing a new cowshed or modernisation of already used bed boxes the genotype and calibre of dairy cows should be taken into account.
  5. When designing size of bed boxes in a cowshed the 25% of maximum values for features liken height at withers and sidelong barrel length of dairy cows of a given breed should be taken into account.

REFERENCES

  1. Anon. 2010. Mindestabmessungen für die Haltung von Rinern. Bundesamt für Veterinärwesen BVET. Fachinformation Tierschutz nr 6.1. (3) luty.
  2. Bartussek H., Lenz V., Würzl H., 2002. Rinderstallbau. Wyd. 3. Graz - Stuttgart, Leopold Stocker Verlag.
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  8. Eilers U., 2010. Liegeboxenmaße: Kompromissformel für Komfort. Bildungs- und Wissenszentrum Aulendorf, Fachbereich Viehhaltung. https://www.landwirtschaft-bw.info/servlet/PB/show/1211563_l1/LAZBWrh_Liegeboxenabmessungen.pdf.
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Accepted for print: 21.12.2011



Responses to this article, comments are invited and should be submitted within three months of the publication of the article. If accepted for publication, they will be published in the chapter headed 'Discussions' and hyperlinked to the article.


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