Changes in Dairy Cow Behavior with and without Assistance at Calving

Bethan Cavendish, John McDonagh, Georgios Tzimiropoulos, Kimberley R. Slinger, Zoë J. Huggett, Matt J. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
122 Downloads (Pure)


The aim of this study was to characterize calving behavior of dairy cows and to compare the duration and frequency of behaviors for assisted and unassisted dairy cows at calving. Behavioral data from nine hours prior to calving were collected for 35 Holstein-Friesian dairy cows. Cows were continuously monitored under 24 h video surveillance. The behaviors of standing, lying, walking, shuffle, eating, drinking and contractions were recorded for each cow until birth. A generalized linear mixed model was used to assess differences in the duration and frequency of behaviors prior to calving for assisted and unassisted cows. The nine hours prior to calving was assessed in three-hour time periods. The study found that the cows spent a large proportion of their time either lying (0.49) or standing (0.35), with a higher frequency of standing (0.36) and shuffle (0.26) bouts than other behaviors during the study. There were no differences in behavior between assisted and unassisted cows. During the three-hours prior to calving, the duration and bouts of lying, including contractions, were higher than during other time periods. While changes in behavior failed to identify an association with calving assistance, the monitoring of behavioral patterns could be used as an alert to the progress of parturition.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere722
JournalAgriculture (Switzerland)
Issue number8
Early online date29 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2021


  • dairy cows
  • behavior
  • birth
  • observations
  • management


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