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

03 July 2012

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.

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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