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Classified by OpenAIRE intomesheuropmc: animal diseases
Thirty-three dairy farms in the Norwegian counties of Østfold and Akershus in which cubicle sheds had been in use for at least one year and with a herd size of less than 60 cows, were contacted and asked to participate in a study. The study focused on heifers' use of cubicles and concentrate dispenser just after being transferred from rearing accommodation to the milking herd. For each heifer, the farmer recorded cubicle use once nightly between 9 and 11 pm. The daily amount of concentrate released in the dispenser and the allotted daily ration were also recorded. The recording period was 15 consecutive days for cubicle use and 7 days for concentrate dispenser use. Cubicle refusal behaviour, i.e. lying outside the cubicles, was analysed by logistic regression using rearing accommodation of heifers, herd size, heifer age, and housing layout as independent variables, and herd as a clustering variable. On Day 2 after transfer, 34% of the heifers were showing cubicle refusal behaviour (N = 340). By Day 15 this percentage had dropped to 23. Cubicle refusal was lower throughout the whole period among heifers which used the cubicles on the 3 first days after transfer compared to those which did not. This tendency could also be detected several months later. The analysis showed cubicle refusal to be significantly associated with rearing accommodation (OR = 6.1, c.i.95%OR = 1.5–24.3, P = 0.01) and cubicle layout in the shed (OR = 0.2, c.i.95%OR = 0.0–0.7, P = 0.01). None of the tested variables were found to be significant for failure to use the concentrate dispenser, a behaviour which was less frequent than cubicle refusal. However, 8 percent of the heifers did not visit the dispenser at all throughout the 7 days of observation.
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