Dairy Cows Continuously Housed in Tie-stalls Failed to Manifest Activity Changes during Oestrus

Changes in behaviour around oestrus by cows in tie-stalls are not pronounced enough for pedometers to be of practical use for heat detection in this type of housing system, according to new research from Alberta, Canada.
calendar icon 3 July 2012
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While pedometers are effective for oestrus detection in free-stall herds, their efficacy in tie-stalls has not been established, according to C.A. Felton at the University of Alberta and co-authors there and at Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development in Canada.

The objectives of their research, they explain in a paper in Canadian Journal of Animal Science, were to determine if pedometers equipped with a behaviour tag for monitoring lying activity (AfiMilk Pedometer Plus Tag system) can accurately record cow activity, and if they can facilitate oestrus detection in dairy cows continuously housed in tie-stalls.

Nineteen lactating Holstein cows were subjected to oestrus induction with prostaglandin F2a, and 18 pregnant cows served as controls. Activity was monitored for 10 days using pedometers and 24-hour video recording.

Pedometer and video records were compared for six days surrounding oestrus; stepping (rc=0.85; P<0.01), lying time (rc=0.94; P<0.01) and lying bouts (rc=0.89; P<0.01) were highly correlated.

Progesterone concentrations confirmed that 17 of the 19 cows responded to oestrus induction; 16 of those 17 cows ovulated. Changes in mean daily activity did not differ (P>0.05) between oestrus-induced cows and controls, or in the oestrus-induced cows in the 48 to 72 hours preceding the day of ovulation.

In conclusion, Felton and co-authors report that, while the pedometers accurately recorded cow activity in lactating cows housed in tie-stalls, they could not facilitate oestrus detection because cow activity did not significantly change during oestrus.


Felton C.A., M.G. Colazo, P. Ponce-Barajas, C.J. Bench and D.J. Ambrose. 2012. Dairy cows continuously-housed in tie-stalls failed to manifest activity changes during estrus. Canadian Journal of Animal Science, 92(2):189-196. doi: 10.4141/cjas2011-134

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July 2012
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