Welfare parameters in dairy cows reared in tie-stall and open-stall farming systems: pilot study

dairy cattle welfare farming system metabolic parameters immunological parameters

Animals can experience pain or distress as a result of widely accepted management practices. In dairy cattle, housing system can affect animal welfare. The assessment of animal welfare requires the use of multiple indicators in order to analyse the heterogeneity of the aspects involved. The aim of this study was to compare the welfare of dairy cows reared in a tie-stall (TS) and open-stall (OS) system by metabolic, immunological and stress related parameters. The study involved 80 pluriparous lactating cows belonging to eight dairy farms located in the area of Mugello (Florence, Italy) reared in TS and OS systems. Ten blood samples were collected at morning time to measure alanine-aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate-aminotransferase (AST), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), β-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA), creatinine (Creat), non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), total proteins (TP), calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), serum lisozyme (SL), bactericidal activity (SBA), haptoglobin (Hp), oxygen free radicals (OFR), and hair cortisol levels. At the same time a body condition score (BCS) was recorded. Statistical analysis was performed by ANOVA. The experiment was carried out in accordance with European Commission regulations (Directive 2010/63/EC and Directive 98/58/EC). The results showed that the housing system affected various parameters such as ALT, BHBA, OFR, cortisol (P≤0.01) and AST, BUN (P≤0.05). Most of these parameters showed mean values within the range of reference without revealing any signs of suffering. An interesting outcome regarded the OFR levels, which was higher in the OS system (68.2±34.51 U.Carr. vs 36.1±21.39 U.Carr.), probably as a consequence of the high productive effort. In conclusion, it is possible to state that TS did not show a comparable overall situation with serious signs of welfare impairment.

Article Details
  • Section
  • Research Articles
Download data is not yet available.
Accorsi PA, Carloni E, Valsecchi P, Viggiani R, Gamberoni M, Tamanini C, Seren E (2008) Cortisol determination in hair and faeces from domestic cats and dogs. Gen Comp Endocr 155:398-402.
Adewuyi AA, Gruysi E, van Eerdenburg FJCM (2005) Non esterified fatty acids (NEFA) in dairy cattle. A review. Veterinary Quarterly 27(3): 117-126.
Amadori M, Archetti IL, Mondelli MM, Fazia M (2002) La valutazione del benessere animale. Quaderni Fondazione Iniziative Zooprofilattiche e Zootecniche 51: 51-54.
Bernabucci U, Ronchi B, Lacetera N, Nardone A (2005) Influence of Body Condition Score on Relationships Between Metabolic Status and Oxidative Stress in Periparturient Dairy Cows. J Dairy Sci 88: 2017-2026.
Bonizzi L, Amadori M, Melegari M, Ponti W, Ceccarelli A (1989) Characterization of some parameters of non-specific immunity in dairy cattle (I). J Vet Med B 36: 365-373.
Bonizzi L, Menandro ML, Pasotto D, Lauzi S (2003) Transition Cow: Non-specific Immune Response. Vet Res Commun 27 (Suppl. 1): 137-142.
Burnett TA, Madureira AML, Silper BF, Nadalin A, Tahmasbi A, Veira DM, Cerri RLA (2014) Factors affecting hair cortisol concentrations in lactating dairy cows. J Dairy Sci 97 (12): 7685-7690.
Carroll JA, Forsberg NE (2007) Topics in Nutritional Management of the Beef Cow and Calf. Vet Clinics NA Food Anim Pract 23 (1):105-149.
Comin A, Peric T, Corazzin M, Veronesi MC, Meloni T, Zufferli V, Cornacchia G, Prandi A (2013) Hair cortisol as a marker of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation in Friesian dairy cows clinically or physiologically compromised. Livest Sci 152: 36-41.
Del Rosario González-de-la-Vara M, Valdez R A, Lemus-Ramirez V, Vázquez-Chagoyán JC, Villa-Godoy A, Romano MC (2011)
Effects of adrenocorticotropic hormone challenge and age on hair cortisol concentrations in dairy cattle. Can J Vet Res 75: 216-221.
De Vries M, Bokkers EAM, van Reenen CG, Engel B, van Schaik G, Dijkstra T, de Boer IJM (2015) Housing and management factors associated with indicators of dairy cattle welfare. Prev Vet Med 118: 80-92.
EFSA (2009) European Food Safety Authority. Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Animal Health and Welfare on a request from the Commission on the risk assessment of the impact of housing, nutrition and feeding, management and genetic selection on behaviour, fear and pain problems in dairy cows. EFSA Journal 1139:1-66.
EFSA (2015) Scientific Opinion on the assessment of dairy cow welfare in small scale farming systems. EFSA Panel on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (AHAW) EFSA Journal 13(6): 4137.
Ferguson JD, Galligan DT, Thomsen N (1994) Principal descriptors of body condition score in Holstein cows. J Dairy Sci 77: 2695-2703.
Ferguson JD, Galligan DT, Thomsen N (1994) Principal descriptors of body condition score in Holstein cows. J Dairy Sci 77: 2695-2703.
Fraser D (1995) Science, values and animal welfare: Exploring the ‘inextricable connection’. Anim Welfare 4:103-117.
Fraser D (2008) Understanding animal welfare. Acta Vet Scand 50 S1.
Galindo J, Gutiérrez O, Ramayo M, Leyva L (2014) Mineral status of cows and its relationship with the soil-plant system in a dairy unit of the Eastern region of Cuba. Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science 48: 241-245.
Herdt TH, Rumbeiha W, Braselton WE (2000) The use of blood analyses to evacuate mineral status in livestock. Vet Clinics NA: Food Anim Pract 16 (3): 423-444.
Kara NK, Galic A, Koyuncu M (2015) Comparison of Milk Yield and Animal Health in Turkish Farms with Differing Stall Types and Resting Surfaces. Asian Australas J Anim Sci 28 (2): 268-272.
Lee AJ, Twardock AR, Bubar RH, Hall JE, Davis CL (1978) Blood metabolic profiles: their use and relation to nutritional status of dairy cows. J Dairy Sci 61: 1652-1670.
Lykkesfeldt J, Svendsen O (2007) Oxidants and antioxidants in disease: oxidative stress in farm animals. Vet J 173 (3): 502-11.
Moya D, Schwartzkopf-Genswein KS, Veira DM (2013) Standardization of a non-invasive methodology to measure cortisol in hair of beef cattle. Livest Sci 158: 138-144.
Oetzel GR (2004) Monitoring and testing dairy herds for metabolic disease. Vet Clin Food Anim 20: 651-674.
Osserman EF, Lawlor DP (1966) Serum and urinary lysozyme (muramidase) in monocytic and monomyelocytic leukemia. J Exp Med 124(5): 921-952.
Overton TR, Waldron MRJ (2004) Nutritional Management of Transition Dairy Cows: Strategies to Optimise Metabolic Health. J Dairy Sci 87: 105-119.
Popescu S, Borda C, Diugan EA, Spinu M, Groza IS, Sandru CD (2013) Dairy cows welfare quality in tie-stall housing system with or without access to exercise. Acta Vet Scand 55(1): 43-54.
Ponti W, Amadori M, Agnolotti F, Ionizzi L, Peri E, Caldora C (1989) Characterization of some parameters of non-specific immunity in beef cattle. J Vet Med B 36: 402-408.
Radkowska I, Herbut E (2014) Hematological and biochemical blood parameters in dairy cows depending on the management system. Anim Sci Pap Rep 32 (4): 317-325.
Rizzo A, Minoia G, Trisolini C, Manca R, Sciorsci RL (2007) Concentrations of free radicals and beta-endorphins in repeat breeder cows. Anim Reprod Sci 100: 257-263.
Roche JR, Friggens NC, Kay JK, Fisher MW, Stafford KJ, Berry DP (2009) Invited review: Body condition score and its association with dairy cow productivity, health, and welfare. J Dairy Sci 92 (12): 5769-5801.
Roche J.R., Kay J.K., Friggens N.C., Loor J.J., Berry D.P. (2013) Assessing and Managing Body Condition Score for the Prevention of Metabolic Disease in Dairy Cows. Vet Clin Food Anim 29: 323–336.
SAS (2002) JMP User’s Guide ver. 5.0, S.A.S. Institute Inc Ed. Cary (North Carolina).
Sordillo LM, Contreras GA, Aitken SL (2009) Metabolic factors affecting the inflammatory response of periparturient dairy cows. Anim Health Res Rev 10 (1): 53-63.
Trevisi E, Amadori M, Cogrossi S, Razzuoli E, Bertoni G (2012) Metabolic stress and inflammatory response in high-yielding, periparturient dairy cows. Res Vet Sci 93: 695-704.
Zdziarski K, Grodzki H, Nałęcz-Tarwacka T, Brzozowski P, Przysucha T (2002) The influence of housing system and genotype of cows on the length of use and their life time milk performance. Zeszyty Naukowe 62: 29-35.