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Article

Validation of Contact Mats to Monitor Dairy Cow Contact with Stall Partitions

1
Department of Animal Science, McGill University, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC H9X 3V9, Canada
2
Environmental Biology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(6), 999; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10060999
Received: 31 March 2020 / Revised: 4 June 2020 / Accepted: 5 June 2020 / Published: 8 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Development and Assessment of Animal Welfare Indicators)
In indoor housing systems, repetitive contact between dairy cows and stall partitions may reduce their quality of rest and hinder ease of movement. A contact mat (CM) is a metal band that produces an electrical signal in response to a contact force. The objective of this study was to validate the ability of a CM system to monitor cow contact with stall dividers and neck rail when compared to visual observation. Eleven lactating cows were monitored both visually and with the CM system for 4 h/d for 4 consecutive days in a tie-stall housing system. Individual CM were affixed to the stall dividers and neck rail to record the frequency of cow contact per second based on a minimum of 11.3 kg of pressure required to produce a digital output. Two trained observers recorded the frequency of cow contact against the stall partitions on a per second basis using predefined criteria. The results suggest that the CM system can be used to accurately rank cows based on their frequency of contact with the stall dividers for both scientific and management purposes. The CM system requires modification and validation if to be used to record the exact number of contacts made by cows with the stall partitions.
In indoor housing systems, repetitive contact with the stall partitions may reflect issues between the housing environment and the cow, by reducing the quality of rest and hindering ease of movement. The objective of this study was to validate the ability of a contact mat (CM) system to monitor cow contact with stall dividers and neck rail when compared to video observation. Eleven lactating cows were monitored using video recording and with the CM system for 4 h/d for 4 consecutive days. CM were affixed to the stall dividers and neck rail to record the frequency of cow contact per second. Two observers recorded the frequency of cow contact against the stall partitions per second using three criteria: cow contact with the stall dividers or neck rail regardless of CM contact (Total Rail Contact), cow contact with the CM regardless of placement or force (Total CM Contact), and cow contact with the CM through proper placement and force (Effective CM Contact). The correlation strength used to measure agreement between video observation and CM system for cow ranking based on degree of contact varied from moderate to very high (dividers: Total Rail Contact: rs = 0.68, Total CM Contact rs = 0.90, Effective CM Contact rs = 0.90; neck rail: Total Rail Contact: rs = 0.71, Total CM Contact rs = 0.66, Effective CM Contact rs = 0.58). CM can be used to accurately rank cows based on their frequency of contact with the stall dividers. This can be used to identify individual cows that need intervention for stall comfort risk factors, or to assess which indoor housing environments offer fewer constraints and better movement opportunities. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal movement; contact mat; dairy cow; stall comfort animal movement; contact mat; dairy cow; stall comfort
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MDPI and ACS Style

Freinberg, C.; Zambelis, A.; Vasseur, E. Validation of Contact Mats to Monitor Dairy Cow Contact with Stall Partitions. Animals 2020, 10, 999. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10060999

AMA Style

Freinberg C, Zambelis A, Vasseur E. Validation of Contact Mats to Monitor Dairy Cow Contact with Stall Partitions. Animals. 2020; 10(6):999. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10060999

Chicago/Turabian Style

Freinberg, Caroline, Athena Zambelis, and Elsa Vasseur. 2020. "Validation of Contact Mats to Monitor Dairy Cow Contact with Stall Partitions" Animals 10, no. 6: 999. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10060999

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