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pigs faceCharacterizing individual cows' dominance based on competition for water

 

Year: 2021

Bianca Vandresen
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil

Supervisor(s): Professor Maria José Hötzel, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil and Profesor Marina von Keyserlingk and Borbala Foris, University of British Columbia, Canada


 

Feed bunk replacements scored using electronic data captured from feed bins have been successfully used to assign dominance scores of all individuals in a group of dairy cows. This has paved the way for integrating dominance scores into management decisions that allow one measure of the social life of the individual to be considered when managing indoor housed dairy cattle. Electronic monitoring of water bin replacements would be more practical as fewer bins require monitoring. Our aim was to identify the duration, ambient temperature, and number of replacements needed that would provide a reasonable estimate of dominance using water bin data compared to the current gold standard of feed bin replacements data. Feed and water bin dominance scores for a dynamic group of 48 cows were assessed for 4-wks during the summer and the winter. Replacements at the water bins were more frequent during the summer compared to winter. Regardless of season, the correlation between feed and water bin dominance scores began to plateau after 7 days and peaked after 14 days (r approx/equal to 0.7). Our results indicate that electronic monitoring of water bin replacements over at least two weeks provide reliable assessment of dairy cows’ dominance in indoor housed systems.