Cows: More freedom may mean less milk

Feb 15, 2010

'Free-stall', untied cattle in small herds produce less milk than cows tied to their stalls but have a higher reproductive performance and suffer less teat injuries and metabolic diseases. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica compared performance and health within the two stall types in response to a ban on the construction of new tie-stalls.

Egil Simensen from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Oslo, worked with a team of researchers to investigate data on 812 herds of Norwegian Red , 192 of which were kept in tie-stalls.

He said, "Free-stall cows in smaller herds produced significantly less than those in tie-stalls, but more milk in larger herds. Cattle are social animals and readily form dominance hierarchies, especially at areas of access to feed, water and rest. It may be that cattle which are free to move around spend more time fighting and less time feeding in small free-stalls, particularly when the design of the stall is suboptimal."

Since 2004, all new cattle stalls built in Norway must be of the free-stall type. There has, however, been very little research on the impact of the interaction between housing system and herd size on animal welfare. Speaking about these results, Simensen said, "Performance and health is not universally better in small free-stalls than in tie-stalls. Herd size must be taken into consideration when preparing and evaluating regulations regarding housing system for dairy ".

Explore further: Sailing against prevailing winds, spotting big islands: Calculating how the Pacific was settled

More information: Housing system and herd size interactions in Norwegian dairy herds; associations with performance and disease incidence, Egil Simensen, Olav Osteras, Knut Egil Boe, Camilla Kielland, Lars Erik Ruud and Geir Naess, Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica (in press), www.actavetscand.com/

Related Stories

Free-range chickens are more prone to disease

Jan 15, 2009

Chickens kept in litter-based housing systems, including free-range chickens, are more prone to disease than chickens kept in cages, according to a study published in BioMed Central's open access journal Acta Veterinaria Sc ...

Names give cows a lotta bottle

Jan 28, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A cow with a name produces more milk than one without, scientists at Newcastle University have found. Drs Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson have shown that by giving a cow a name and treating ...

Unpasteurized milk poses health risks without benefits

Dec 16, 2008

With disease outbreaks linked to unpasteurized milk rising in the United States, a review published in the January 1, 2009 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases examines the dangers of drinking raw milk.

Recommended for you

Norway tests out 'animal rights cops'

8 hours ago

Norwegian police is creating a unit to investigate cruelty to animals, the government said Monday, arguing that those who hurt animals often harm people too.

High-pitched sounds cause seizures in old cats

10 hours ago

When the charity International Cat Care asked veterinary neurologists at Davies Veterinary Specialists, UK, for help with several enquiries it had received regarding cats having seizures, seemingly in response ...

Rare dune plants thrive on disturbance

10 hours ago

Beginning in the 1880s, coastal dunes in the United States were planted with European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria) in an attempt to hold the sand in place and prevent it from migrating. The grass did th ...

How an RNA gene silences a whole chromosome

12 hours ago

Researchers at Caltech have discovered how an abundant class of RNA genes, called long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs, pronounced link RNAs) can regulate key genes. By studying an important lncRNA, called Xist, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.