This blog post was written by Gabriel M. Dallago.
Last summer, CowLife McGill attended the 53rd Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE 2019), which took place in Bergen, Norway. You might remember that from one of our previous post! As a quick reminder, Elsa Vasseur and then-Ph.D. candidate, Elise Shepley represented the CowLife team. Elsa presented the results of years of research on contact mat technology used in tie-stalls to study cow ease of movement. You can read more about that in our previous post here. In addition, Elise presented an overview of her review on how housing systems affect cow movement opportunity and the subsequent effects on cow locomotor activity, behavior, and welfare. You can check out her poster and more information about her review in this blog post.
We heard great feedback from researchers attending the conference, which continually fuel our interest in conducting Animal Welfare research. And, guess what! We were invited to publish both presentations in important journals in the field!!
The research presented by Elsa was published in the Animals Journal. Below is a quick summary of the paper, entitled Validation of contact mats to monitor dairy cow contact with stall partitions:
In indoor housing systems, repetitive contact between dairy cows and stall partitions may reduce their quality of rest and hinder ease of movement. A contact mat (CM) is a metal band that produces an electrical signal in response to a contact force. The objective of this study was to validate the ability of a CM system to monitor cow contact with stall dividers and neck rail when compared to visual observation. Eleven lactating cows were monitored both visually and with the CM system for 4 h/d for 4 consecutive days in a tie-stall housing system. Individual CM were affixed to the stall dividers and neck rail to record the frequency of cow contact per second based on a minimum of 11.3 kg of pressure required to produce a digital output. Two trained observers recorded the frequency of cow contact against the stall partitions on a per second basis using predefined criteria. The results suggest that the CM system can be used to accurately rank cows based on their frequency of contact with the stall dividers for both scientific and management purposes. The CM system requires modification and validation if to be used to record the exact number of contacts made by cows with the stall partitions.
If you are interested in reading the Open Access full paper, you can find the link to the publication clicking in the picture below.
Elise’s review was published in the journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science. With the title Cow in Motion: A review of the impact of housing systems on movement opportunity of dairy cows and implications on locomotor activity, the main highlights of the paper are:
The use of the term ‘exercise’ for dairy cows is inadequate for most existing studies
Exercise studies share one commonality: they provide cows with movement opportunity
Movement opportunity can be viewed in two ways: quantitatively and qualitatively
Housing characteristics/outdoor access and cow motivation affect movement opportunity
Increasing movement opportunity can benefit cow health, behavior, and welfare
If you are interested in reading the abstract and the full paper, you can find the link to the publication clicking in the picture below.
Both papers are hot off the press!! Hurry up to check it out!! If you are interested in these papers, we also invite you to take a look at our section on Scientific Papers to see a list of other papers published by our team.