Effect of core body temperature, time of day, and climate conditions on behavioral patterns of lactating dairy cows experiencing mild to moderate heat stress

J. D. Allen, L. W. Hall, R. J. Collier, J. F. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

74 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cattle show several responses to heat load, including spending more time standing. Little is known about what benefit this may provide for the animals. Data from 3 separate cooling management trials were analyzed to investigate the relationship between behavioral patterns in lactating dairy cows experiencing mild to moderate heat stress and their body temperature. Cows (n = 157) were each fitted with a leg data logger that measured position and an intravaginal data logger that measures core body temperature (CBT). Ambient conditions were also collected. All data were standardized to 5-min intervals, and information was divided into several categories: when standing and lying bouts were initiated and the continuance of each bout (7,963 lying and 6,276 standing bouts). In one location, cows were continuously subjected to heat-stress levels according to temperature-humidity index (THI) range (THI. ≥72). The THI range for the other 2 locations was below and above a heat-stress threshold of 72 THI. Overall and regardless of period of day, cows stood up at greater CBT compared with continuing to stand or switching to a lying position. In contrast, cows lay down at lower CBT compared with continuing to lie or switching to a standing position, and lying bouts lasted longer when cows had lower CBT. Standing bouts also lasted longer when cattle had greater CBT, and they were less likely to lie down (less than 50% of lying bouts initiated) when their body temperature was over 38.8°C. Also, cow standing behavior was affected once THI reached 68. Increasing CBT decreased lying duration and increased standing duration. A CBT of 38.93°C marked a 50% likelihood a cow would be standing. This is the first physiological evidence that standing may help cool cows and provides insight into a communally observed behavioral response to heat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-127
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of dairy science
Volume98
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Keywords

  • Core body temperature
  • Heat stress
  • Lactating cow
  • Standing behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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