Journal article
Short communication: Decrease in rumination time as an indicator of the onset of calving

Publication Details
Büchel, S.; Sundrum, A.
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Journal of Dairy Science
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The aim of this study was to investigate whether rumination time (RT) is affected by the onset of calving. The relationship between both feeding time and dry matter intake (DMI) to the onset of calving was also examined. In addition, the correlation between feeding behavior characteristics, described here as RT, feeding time, and DMI, was evaluated. Under test conditions, the feeding behavior of pregnant Holstein cows was recorded from the time when they were moved into calving pens (usually 7 to 5d prepartum) until the onset of calving. Feeding time and DMI were recorded by automatic feed bins; RT was measured continuously by a measuring halter based on electromyography (DairyCheck; BITSz Engineering GmbH, Zwickau, Germany), which constitutes a new approach regarding feeding behavior detection. Data analysis related to the final 72 h, before the onset of calving, which were divided into twelve 6-h blocks. The last 6h (one 6-h block) before calving were compared with the 72- to 7-h time frame (11 times 6-h blocks) before calving, which was defined as the reference period. For this time period, feeding behavior data for 17 cows was fully available, which was the precondition for data analysis. In the final 6h before imminent birth, RT was significantly reduced. During this time, it was found that the mean minimum RT was 69.9 +/- 28.5 min/6h compared with the mean RT of 95.5 +/- 30.8 min/6h in the reference period. The average decrease in RT was 27{\%} (25.6 min/6h). In addition, feeding time and DMI were significantly reduced. The average decrease in feeding time was 57{\%} (20.8 min/6h), and in DMI it was 56{\%} (1.9 kg/6h). High correlation coefficients between feeding behavior characteristics were only found between feeding time and DMI. Values of feeding behavior among cows were characterized by high variability. Recording RT can serve as a useful tool for predicting the timing of birth for dairy cows, but further research is necessary.


Last updated on 2019-09-07 at 13:05