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Refinement of international recommendations for cubicles, based on the identification of associations between cubicle characteristics and dairy cow welfare measures

Abstract : Maladjusted cubicles for dairy cattle may cause increased skin alterations, lameness, and dirtiness. The International Commission of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering has produced several recommendations for cubicle design, but a previous study showed that not all of them seem efficient. Here, we aim to refine and complete these recommendations. We collected data on 76 dairy farms (2,404 cows). We modeled the association between combinations of cubicle properties (e.g., type of bedding litter) and dimensions (e.g., cubicle width) relative to cow size, and prevalence of cow skin alterations, lameness, and dirtiness. We used weighted multivariable logistic regression models to predict the presence of skin alteration on the carpus; the neck, shoulder, and back; the flank, side, and udder; and the tarsus or hindquarters. We also evaluated the presence of lameness as well as the dirtiness of the lower hind legs including hocks; the hindquarters, upper hind legs, and flank; the cow rear including tail; and the udder. The risk factors highlighted led us to recommend (1) position cubicles in a way that leaves more than 1 m of clearance from any obstacle in front of the cubicle; (2) if there is an obstacle on the lateral plane (i.e., where the cubicle partition is) in front ahead of the cow, put the obstacle in front of the fore knees; (3) if there is an obstacle in front of the cow on the median plane (e.g., neck or front rail), the position the obstacle between 1.25 and 1.5 of the cow length from the curb and between 1.0 and 1.25 of its height; (4) use curb height between 0.11 and 0.15 of cow height with no sharp edges on the curb; (5) use round or at least has no sharp edges brisket board; (6) use a stone-free soil instead of concrete or use a. mattress thicker than 1 cm, with microrelief, and a soft fixing area at the curb, (7) litter with straw (rather than nothing or sawdust) and keep it dry. This risk factor analysis should be followed by experiments in controlled environments to further validate these conclusions and used to update the International Commission of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering recommendations.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, March 31, 2021 - 9:37:12 AM
Last modification on : Monday, April 12, 2021 - 3:24:01 PM

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Romain Lardy, Alice de Boyer Des Roches, Jacques Capdeville, Renaud Bastien, Luc Mounier, et al.. Refinement of international recommendations for cubicles, based on the identification of associations between cubicle characteristics and dairy cow welfare measures. Journal of Dairy Science, American Dairy Science Association, 2021, 104 (2), pp.2164-2184. ⟨10.3168/jds.2019-17972⟩. ⟨hal-03186390⟩

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