Skip to main content Accessibility help

Feeding level and oral stereotypies in dairy cows

  • I. Redbo (a1), M. Emanuelson (a1), K. Lundberg (a1) and N. Oredsson (a1)


The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of feeding strategy on the performance of oral stereotypies, such as tongue-rolling and bar-biting, and other behaviours in lactating dairy cows. Thirty–seven cows of the Swedish Red and Wliite breed were randomly assigned into three treatments with different feeding strategies. Cows in treatment (AL) were given food ad libitum during the whole experimental period, which lasted from weeks 3 to 26 post partum. The second group (AL–R) was given food ad libitum during weeks 3 to 14 post partum, thereafter they were given food at a restricted level. The third group (R) was given food at a restricted level during the whole experiment period. All cows were offered a total mixed ration consisting of 650 g concentrate and 350 g forage per kg twice a day and their individual daily food intakes were registered. Behavioural recordings were made for 4 h on a fixed day every 2nd week, where each individual cow was observed every 2nd minute.

During the complete experimental period, 27 out of the 37 cows showed stereotypies; 13 cows in group R, 10 in group AL–R and four in the AL group. The proportions of cows showing stereotypies were not independent of feeding treatment within the respective periods (P < 0·01). The stereotypy levels, counted as the mean frequency of recordings per treatment period, increased significantly between period 1 (lactation weeks 3 to 14) and period 2 (weeks 17 to 26) in group AL–R (P < 0·01) and in group R(P < 0·01), but not in the AL group. In period 2 the R cows had significantly higher stereotypy levels than the cows in the AL–R group (P < 0·01). Group R decreased the time spent eating between the periods (P < 0·001), with the same tendency in group AL–R. The AL group had longer eating time in period 2 than the AL–R (P < 0–001) and the R (P < 0·001) cows. The AL cows had a higher frequency of rumination than the other treatments in period 2 (P < 0·01). Both the AL–R and the R cows increased their activity levels between the periods (P < 0·001 for both). There were also differences between treatments in period 2, where the AL cows were less active than the AL–R (P < 0·05) and the R cows (P < 0·01).

It is concluded that oral stereotypies in dairy cows are highly affected by feeding strategy, where restrictive feeding of a mixed food induces significant increases of stereotypies. The results of this investigation clearly indicate that restricted feeding of a diet with high levels of concentrate has a negative effect on the well being of lactating cows.



Hide All
Appleby, M. C. and Lawrence, A. B. 1987. Food restriction as a cause of stereotypic behaviour in tethered gilts. Animal Production 45: 103110.
Cronin, G. M. 1985. The development and significance of abnormal stereotyped behaviours in tethered sows. Ph.D. thesis, Agricultural University ofWageningen, The Netherlands.
Duncan, I. J. H., Rushen, J. and Lawrence, A. B. 1993. Conclusions and implications for animal welfare. In Stereotypic animal behaviour (ed. Lawrence, A. B. and Rushen, J.), pp. 193206. CAB International, Wallingford.
Kooijman, J., Wierenga, H. K. and Wiepkema, P. R. 1991. Development of abnormal oral behaviour in group-housed veal calves: effects of roughage supply. International symposium on veal calf production, Wageningen 1990, European Association for Animal Production, publication, no. 52, p. 5458.
Lawrence, A. B. and Terlouw, E. M. C. 1993. A review of behavioural factors involved in the development and continued performance of stereotypic behaviors in pigs. Journal of Animal Science 71: 28152825.
Le Magnen, J. 1985. Hunger. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Odberg, F. O. 1978. Abnormal behaviours: stereotypies. Proceedings of the first world congress on ethology applied to zootechnics, Madrid, pp. 475480.
Redbo, I. 1990. Changes in duration and frequency of stereotypies and their adjoining behaviours in heifers, before, during and after the grazing period. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 26: 5767.
Redbo, I. 1992a. The influence of restraint on the occurrence of oral stereotypies in dairy cows. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 35: 115123.
Redbo, I. 1992b. Stereotypies in dairy cattle and their relation to confinement, production-related factors, physiological reactions, and adjoining behaviours. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, dissertation, report 212.
Redbo, I., Jacobsson, K. G., Doorn, C. van and Pettersson, G. 1992. A note on relations between oral stereotypies in dairy cows and milk production, health and age. Animal Production 54: 166168.
Rushen, J. 1984. Stereotypic behavior, adjunctive drinking and the feeding periods of tethered cows. Animal Behaviour 32: 10591067.
Rushen, J. 1985. Stereotypies, aggression and the feeding schedules of tethered sows. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 14: 137147.
Sambraus, H. H. von and Gotthardt, A. 1985. Práputiumsaugen und Zungenspielen bei intensiv gehaltenen Mastbullen. Deutscher tierárztlicher Wochenschrift 2: 465468.
Sato, S., Nagamine, R. and Kubo, T. 1994. Tongue-playing in tethered Japanese Black cattle: dirunal patterns, analysis of variance and behaviour sequences. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 39: 3947.
Spörndly, R. (ed.). 1993. Födertabeller for idisslare 1993. Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet (SLU Info) Speciella skrifter 52.
Terlouw, E. M. C. and Lawrence, A. B. 1993. Long-term effects of food allowance and housing on development of stereotypies in pigs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 38: 103126.
Terlouw, E. M. C., Lawrence, A. B. and Illius, A. W. 1991. Influences of feeding level and physical restriction on development of stereotypies in sows. Animal Behaviour 42: 981991.
Wemelsfelder, F. 1993. The concept of animal boredom and its relationship to stereotyped behaviour. In Stereotypic animal behaviour (ed. Lawrence, A. B. and Rushen, J.), pp. 6595. CAB International, Wallingford.
Wierenga, H. K. 1987. Behavioural problems in fattening bulls. In Welfare aspects of housing systems for veal calves fattening bulls (ed. Schlichting, M. C. and Smidt, D.), CEC report EUR 10777, pp. 105122.
Wilkinson, L. 1992. SYSTAT: The system for statistics. SYSTAT Inc., Evanston, IL.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Feeding level and oral stereotypies in dairy cows

  • I. Redbo (a1), M. Emanuelson (a1), K. Lundberg (a1) and N. Oredsson (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.