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Infectious disease does not impact the lying and grooming behaviour of post-parturient dairy cows

Abstract : Behaviour is commonly used to detect sickness in animals, but the impact of sickness on lying and maternal behaviours around parturition is not well understood. The objective was to assess the effects of sickness on the lying and grooming behaviours of dairy cows in the first 24 h after giving birth. Cows were categorized as ‘sick’ (n = 8) if they had at least one rectal temperature ≥39.1 °C and one clinical sign of illness (mastitis, pneumonia or an unknown infection) within 24 h of calving. These cows were match-paired for parity with cows that had no rectal temperature ≥39.1 °C and no clinical signs of illness up to 3 d after calving (n = 8; ‘not sick’). The duration and latency of cow behaviours (standing, lying, lying bouts, lying close to calf, and grooming of the calf) and calf behaviours (standing and lying) were recorded for 24 h post-partum. We found no differences in the behaviour of sick and not sick cows and their calves post-calving, except that sick cows took longer to lie down near their calf after calving compared to those without illness. Cows may be more motivated to groom and spend time with their calf than to express sickness behaviours immediately after giving birth.
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Nadège Perier, Alice de Boyer Des Roches, Margit Bak Jensen, Kathryn Proudfoot. Infectious disease does not impact the lying and grooming behaviour of post-parturient dairy cows. Animals, MDPI, 2019, 9 (9), pp.634. ⟨10.3390/ani9090634⟩. ⟨hal-02619311⟩

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