Conference proceedings article
Inter-Test-Zusammenhänge ausgewählter Verhaltensmessgrößen zur Beurteilung der Reaktivität von Milchkühen gegenüber dem Menschen

Publication Details
Ebinghaus, A.; Ivemeyer, S.; Knierim, U.
Publication year:
Pages range:
Book title:
Aktuelle Arbeiten zur artgemäßen Tierhaltung 2016
Number in series:
KTBL-Schrift 511


Four behavioural measures to routinely assess the individual reactivity of dairy cows towards humans have been identified as reliable in a preliminary study, and should now be applied on a broader basis and tested for their criterion validity. In this respect we were also interested in associations with the cows´ behaviour during milking on herd level.

On 33 dairy farms, avoidance distances (AD) at the feeding place were measured. Tolerance to tactile interaction (BT) and behaviour during release from restraint (VF) were assessed using five-step rating scales, and qualitative behaviour assessments (QBA) in a human-animal interaction were conducted. For analyses on herd level, medians and percentages of highly responsive or confident cows were calculated from the different measures. Further, the average number of stepping (STEP) and kicking (KICK) per cow during milking was recorded. Inter-test associations were analysed by Spearman-rank or Pearson correlation analyses.

On individual animal level a high correlation was found between VF and QBA (rs = 0.74, p < 0.01). Moderate correlations ranging from rs = 0.46 to 0.69 (p < 0.01) were found between AD and VF, BT and VF, AD and QBA and between BT and QBA. AD and BT correlated only weakly (rs = 0.28, p < 0.01). On herd level significant correlations between all calculated values were found ranging from rs = -0.46 to 0.74 (p < 0.01). STEP was only significantly correlated with the percentage of cows that could be touched in the AD test (rs = -0.44, p < 0.05) as well as with KICK (r = 0.74, p < 0.01). KICK showed no further correlations.

These results suggest that the different measures reflect similar, but not entirely identical aspects of the individual cows´ behavioural reactions towards humans. Deviations could be explained by different perceptions of the human by the cow in the different test situations or by recording different aspects of the behavioural reactions. However, stronger inter-test correlations on herd level support the assumption that overall the measures reflect similar aspects and generally allow conclusions on the quality of the human-animal relationship (HAR) on the farm. The cows´ behaviour during milking was only weakly influenced by their reactivity towards humans in the barn. Thus, the question arises to what extent the behaviour during milking reflects the HAR.

criterion validity, dairy cows, human-animal-relationship, inter-test associations, Inter-Test-Zusammenhänge, Kriteriumsvalidität, Mensch-Tier-Beziehung, Milchkühe

Last updated on 2019-25-07 at 16:22