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Home / Research / Departments / Department of Animal Health, Welfare and Nutrition / Behaviour and stress biology / Projects finalised 2006 / Behaviour and welfare of dairy cattle housed in large groups


Behaviour and welfare of dairy cattle housed in large groups



Senior scientist:  Margit Bak Jensen



Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Skara
University of Helsinki


The first aim of the project is to provide scientific knowledge of calves’ social and feeding behaviour when housed in groups, especially large dynamic groups. This knowledge is needed to improve the milk-feeding methods. When calves are housed in groups, cross-sucking may develop. Furthermore, cross-sucking calves are more likely to perform inter-sucking and milk stealing as heifers and cows. Therefore, the second aim of the project is to find ways to prevent the development of inter-sucking and to find effective ways of stopping this problem, once it has developed. The specific aims are (1) to investigate the effect of group size and age homogeneity on competition, social integration and sub-grouping among dairy calves in large dynamic groups, and to develop behavioural tests to measure the social preferences of calves, (2) to investigate the effect of group size, milk feeding method, as well as management of a computer controlled milk feeder on competition for access to milk, milk intake and cross-sucking in dairy calves, (3) to investigate how calves are best introduced to a group and to investigate if data recorded by the computer controlled feeder may be used for early detection of health problems, and (4) to investigate the causes and development of inter-sucking in dairy heifers and cows, and to develop methods to prevent it.

For further information please contact the responsible scientist.


Last updated: Monday 27 August 2007 - [email protected]