Effect of Vector on cows’ behavior

The study was built up out of two parts. The first part was a camera setup before and after the start-up with the Vector. Out of this research the eating, laying and waiting behavior is analyzed before and after start-up. The second part of the research included a data analysis on milk production, number of milkings and refusals, activity, rumination and weight. Again this part compared the data before and after start-up. Following three outcomes we would like to discuss: rumination, visit behavior at the feed fence and activity.

Management, Feeding

Rumination

During the research the rumination activity was monitored and analyzed. We can see that the rumination activity overall has increased, but more interesting is the difference at around 08.00 and 16.00 to 18.00 (figure 1). We have seen that after start-up (red columns) the dips at these moments have clearly been reduced. Or in other words, the rumination activity is more consistent during the whole day, thus reducing the risk of rumen acidosis.

Figure 1 N=6

Visit behavior at feed fence

One of the other clear outcomes of the research is the visit behavior of the cows at the feed fence. Known fact is that with conventional feeding low-ranked cows have fewer opportunities to consume their feed. As can be seen in image 2, the feed fence is less crowded after start-up with the Vector. This visual analysis is supported by the data in figure 3. We can see that the peak between 09.00 and 12.00 has drastically decreased and is more even during the day. Also interesting is to see that cows are visiting the feed fence more at night and early in the morning because of the availability of fresh feed.

Image 2, before and after start-up.

Figure 3

Activity

A third interesting outcome of the research was that the overall activity of the cows during the day has decreased. Explanation for this can be that because of the continuous availability of fresh feed there is less need for the cows to search for feed. In addition we have investigated and concluded that the average milk production, the number of milkings and refusals slightly increased. So the decrease of activity has no negative influence on these KPIs.

Conclusions

Automatic feeding ensures that cows can eat the whole day round, which results in a more stable rumen health and less conflict behavior in the herd. This expresses itself as a higher and more equal rumination pattern, and cows visiting the feed fence more frequently and regularly.

Top