J. S. Thompson
Field survey to evaluate space allowances for dairy cows in Great Britain
Thompson, J. S.; Huxley, J. N.; Hudson, C. D.; Kaler, J.; Gibbons, J.; Green, M. J.
J. N. Huxley
CHRISTOPHER HUDSON firstname.lastname@example.org
Clinical Associate Professor
JASMEET KALER JASMEET.KALER@NOTTINGHAM.AC.UK
Professor of Epidemiology & Precision Livestock Informatics
MARTIN GREEN email@example.com
Professor of Cattle Health & Epidemiology
© 2020 American Dairy Science Association Housing conditions can affect health of cows by increasing exposure to biological, chemical, and physical hazards, resulting in increased disease. A report in 2014 indicated that 99% of UK dairy cows are housed during winter months and that an increasing number of farms are committing to year-round indoor-housing management systems. Current literature does not provide a clear understanding of the relationship between cow health, welfare, and production, and the housing environment. Loafing space, in this case defined as non-feed, non-lying, and non–high traffic areas of the housed environment, is considered an important component of housing for dairy cows; however, the scientific literature associated with this subject is sparse internationally. The aim of this research was to explore current housing of dairy cows across Great Britain, with specific focus on understanding the practices and variability associated with space allowance. A secondary aim was to explore farmer opinions and knowledge on the value of living space. A single researcher visited 53 randomly selected farms, from a representative sample group, once during the winter housing period 2017–18. Data collection consisted of 3 elements: collation of basic farm details, precise measurement of adult dairy cow accommodation, and a questionnaire to capture farmer opinions on space allowances. Statistical analysis was undertaken to assess variation among farms in total space, loafing space, and living space per cow. A new metric, termed “living space,” was defined to describe the additional space availability for dairy cows above that deemed to be a baseline requirement. Large variability was identified between farms in total space available per cow, with a range from 5.4 to 12.7 m2 [mean = 8.3 m2, median = 8.2 m2, interquartile range (IQR) = 1.9 m2]. The mean living space was 2.5 m2, with a range of 0.5 m2 to 6.4 m2 (median = 2.4 m2, IQR = 1.6 to 3.2 m2). Responses from a farmer questionnaire on importance of loafing space revealed that farmers felt it was essential for cow welfare, over half of farmers scoring this ≥8 on a 0 to 10 scale. Farmers were categorized into 4 latent classes based on their attitudes toward the importance of loafing space. In a linear model to predict the “living space” provided on each farm, geographical location and latent class of farmer attitude were covariates significantly associated with the amount of space provided. This study is the first worldwide to quantify variability in loafing and living spaces for dairy herds; further research is required to evaluate the extent to which variation in quantity and quality of space influences cow health, welfare, and productivity, as well as farm economics and emissions.
|Journal Article Type||Article|
|Publication Date||Apr 1, 2020|
|Journal||Journal of Dairy Science|
|Publisher||American Dairy Science Association|
|Peer Reviewed||Peer Reviewed|
|APA6 Citation||Thompson, J. S., Huxley, J. N., Hudson, C. D., Kaler, J., Gibbons, J., & Green, M. J. (2020). Field survey to evaluate space allowances for dairy cows in Great Britain. Journal of Dairy Science, 103(4), 3745-3759. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2019-17004|
|Keywords||Dairy cow, Housing, Health and welfare, Loafing space, Living space|
This file is under embargo until Feb 1, 2021 due to copyright restrictions.
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