The investigation of movement, activity, and behavior of animals in pens or stables gives great insight into differences between group and individual housing, enriched and plain stables, different types of feeding systems, and so on. Read this blog to learn more about that, but also about cow behavior in paddocks.
Today, we are proud to have another guest blogger! Laura Webb has done some interesting research at Wageningen University (The Netherlands) on the dietary preferences of calves and honored us with a blog post! Also, there is a free case study available at the end of this post!
Calves, whether raised for milk or meat production, are typically fed diets that differ from diets of feral cattle herds. For example, veal calves receive large quantities of milk replacer and solid feed with little structure to chew on, while dairy calves are weaned off milk early on and receive mostly solid feed. Diets typically fed to calves can cause a number of welfare problems, including poor stomach health as well as stress due to the inability to perform highly-motivated natural behaviours such as rumination or sucking on a teat. Furthermore, there is much research indicating that animals, and in particular ruminants, are able to select a balanced diet and maximise their comfort. So why not let calves choose?
Does it matter how much time a cow spends standing up or lying down? Bert Tolkamp thought that it did matter, and last week he proved his point by winning an IgNobel prize  for his work on this . He attached a sensor to the legs of some cows and measured tens of thousands of episodes of lying and standing. His findings were at first sight puzzling and on reflection, revealing (hence the prize). If a cow was lying for a long time, it was more likely to stand up, but it if had been standing for a long time, it was not more likely to lie down.