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What is known about the eliminative behaviors of dairy cattle?

The eliminative behaviors of dairy cattle include frequencies and distribution over time and space for defecations and urinations, how the animal responds to cow-related and environmental factors by way of altered patterns of defecation and urination, and how an animal carries out and responds to its own acts of elimination. This review discusses the available literature to first define and describe eliminative behaviors of dairy cattle; what follows is a discussion on what can affect eliminative behaviors and methods for managing them. Information regarding these behaviors is sparse for dairy cattle and is largely centered around frequencies and distributions over the day. Relationships exist between eliminative behaviors and activity levels of the animals and activity levels of the people who manage them, suggesting that types of housing systems play a key role in mainly where and when eliminations occur. It also seems that individual animals vary in their elimination frequencies, in which case it may be interesting to determine what aspects of their individuality contribute to these differences. Although aspects of housing are intended to separate animals from their excreta, stalls or cubicles are not necessarily designed with cattle's natural eliminative behaviors in mind. Refining the timing of management routines and training of animals are some options in the next steps toward managing eliminative behaviours.

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