Preference of lactating dairy cows for strawyard or cubicle housing systems at two space allowances

Jose Antonio Fregonesi, John David Leaver


Two preference tests were conducted with 16 lactating dairy cows in which they were allowed to choose between strawyard and cubicle housing systems. The two tests each of 14 days duration examined preferences at high and low space allowances. All cows had previous experience of both systems, but in the week prior to the preference tests, half the animals were housed in a strawyard and half in a cubicle system. This prior treatment was found to have no significant influence on subsequent choice of housing system. Continuous video recordings showed that the mean proportion of time over 14 days spent in the strawyard and cubicle areas was 66:34 at high space allowance and 68:32 at low space allowance respectively. In the second week of test at both space allowances, the total lying time proportion in the strawyard and cubicles was 91:09 indicating a strong preference to lie in the strawyard area, even when the area was restricted at the low space allowance. Social rank and dominance values were determined prior to the tests, and were found to correlate more strongly with age than with liveweight. They did not significantly influence the choice of housing system at either space allowance. The occurrence of minority preferences for the cubicle system suggests that using preference as an indicator of welfare, may lead to the development of systems which will not provide the best welfare for all animals.


Dairy cows; Preference test; Housing systems; Social Rank; Resting Behaviour.


Semina: Ciênc. Agrár.
Londrina - PR
E-ISSN 1679-0359
DOI: 10.5433/1679-0359
Este obra está licenciado com uma Licença Creative Commons Atribuição-NãoComercial 4.0 Internacional