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Do international commission of agricultural and biosystems engineering (CIGR) dimension recommendations for loose housing of cows improve animal welfare?

Abstract : Design of cubicles and self-locking barriers can affect cow skin alterations, lameness, and dirtiness. We investigated whether the International Commission of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (CIGR, Gainesville, FL)-recommended cattle housing design and dimensions actually improve cow welfare. We recorded individual cow body dimensions and assessed skin alterations, dirtiness, and lameness on 3,841 cows from 131 loose housing dairy farms (76 farms with cubicles and 55 straw-yard systems). We recorded the dimensions of cubicles (e.g., width, length, and so on) and of the self-locking barrier (e.g., top rail height and so on) for each farm. We then compared whether these dimensions would match with the individual cow body dimensions and whether compliance was associated with the occurrence of skin alterations, lameness, and dirtiness. Most cows (69.2%) had at least one skin alteration, on the tarsus (41.2%); neck, shoulder, or back (28.2%); hindquarters (22.0%); carpus (21.2%); and flank, side, or udder (11.6%). Lameness prevalence reached 17.9%. Most cows (83.1%) were scored dirty in at least one body region, mainly on the lower hind legs including hocks (81.4%), hindquarters (41.8%), and udder (21.0%). Cubicle recommendations were mostly met for cubicle resting length (75.9% of cubicles) and neck rail distance (NRD, 60.7%) but less so for overall cubicle length (CL, 38.8%), cubicle width (CW, 30.9%), neck rail height (NRH, 22.5%), head space (HS, 15.8%), partition zone for controlling lying position (ii zone, 15.7%), head and lunging space (HLS, 10.6%), partition head zone (i zone, 9.4%), and partition zone for pelvis freedom (iii zone, 6.0%). Compliance with design recommendations was associated with fewer skin alterations on neck (recommendation met for CW, CL, HS, and NRD and i zone), hindquarters (CW, CL, NRD), tarsus (CW, i and ii zones), and carpus (CW, HS, i and ii zones); less lameness (CW, NRIL i zone); and less dirtiness on the hindquarters (CW, HLS, NRD), lower hind legs (iii zone), and udder (CW, CL, HLS, NRD). Compliance with recommended i zone and ii zone design was associated with less injury and lameness but more dirtiness, whereas the opposite was true for the iii zone. Self-locking barrier recommendations were mostly met for bottom rail height (68.2%), separation wall width (SWW, 68.3%), and top rail height (TRH, 56.9%) and less often met for separation wall height (36.3%) and height difference between feeding floor and walking alley (26.5%). Risk for skin alterations on carpus and neck only decreased when SWW and TRH met recommendations. In conclusion, compliance with CIGR recommendations for some cubicle dimensions and neck rail position was associated with lower risk for cow welfare. However, the CIGR recommendations on cubicle partitions and self-locking barriers still leave welfare at risk and so need to be refined through further research with close observation of cow lying and feeding behavior.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, May 27, 2020 - 2:21:56 AM
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Alice de Boyer Des Roches, Romain Lardy, Jacques Capdeville, Luc Mounier, Isabelle Veissier. Do international commission of agricultural and biosystems engineering (CIGR) dimension recommendations for loose housing of cows improve animal welfare?. Journal of Dairy Science, 2019, 102 (11), pp.10235-10249. ⟨10.3168/jds.2018-16154⟩. ⟨hal-02629169⟩



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