Discussion created on 06/18/2015

Herding Instinct in Dairy Cows

I manage a herd of 3000 cows and 3000 followers in the Middle East. One historical issue that I am trying to address is the behavior of milking cows in groups at the extremities of the herd. The problem is most pronounced in Summer day time. Milking cows crowd together in the loose sand and manure bedded sheds at the closest point to the nearest group and in some cases only use only up to 40% of the expensive cooled shaded space allocated to them. This means they generate and lie in congested muckier areas and thereby increase coli counts, increase scc's and clinical mastltis, unnecessarily. This issue has phased present and previous management and many consultants that have visited the farm. This issue affects the 8 sheds at the extremities of the herd by different degrees These sheds are all of different orientation so the aspect of sun, flies are not common factors. The one common factor is that all the sheds are at the extremities of the herd - so my theory is that it is the herding instinct of the cows that makes them want to bunch as close as possible to the core of the overall herd. The cows spread out well at night time so it might be that they cannot see open spaces outside them in the darkness.

Two solutions I am looking at are: 

1- Blind off the end of the sheds and sand yards with sheeting and the feed passage with black plastic strips.
2- Make small enclosures at the unused ends of the houses and place 5 or 6 cows in each after milking to get the rest of the affected groups to spread out towards them.

I am sure other herds have experienced similar issues of this nature, so I am interested to hear ideas and opinions from any quarter.

John Dore
Dairy producer
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Hassan Khan Hassan Khan
Mr. Hassan Khan
July 1, 2015
As you mentioned that all the animals are well spread in the night time , a,d the sheds are of different orientation, this might be the issue of orientation------Direction of the shed if it is east-west instead of North -south, then it is better to be used for something else like feed stores etc but not for the live animals. Actually the animals herding instinct indicates that there is something wrong teasing to the animal comfort. which must be hot & humid situation at the extremities.
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Dr.channegowda H K Dr.channegowda H K
Animal Nutritionist
July 1, 2015
I have couple of points to share in this regard,

HF is a very sensitive animal. If you observe its behavior, dairy cows prefer sandy bed or loose soil or loose dry manure. they prefer lying down on a cool and dry place. this animal doesn't prefer even windy areas.
Give it a try, Avoid feed and water in those extremities. Try recording temperature in different parts of animal house and see any effect of it.
Apart from this, formation of small colonies within a herd is another natural behavior.

Dr.Channegowda
Consultant Veterinary Nutritionist
India
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John Dore John Dore
Dairy producer
July 1, 2015
As I stated before, if you look at our Facebook page ,Al Tukhaim Dairy Project , you will see before and after photos of placing a temporary herd of in calf heifers at the most outer extremity of one house. The cows spread out immediately,
JD
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Mumar Mumar
veterinarian and health supervisor
July 1, 2015
good observation but sir
some of very big size farm it is same like impossibles to do every day.
need some permanent solution.
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Hassan Khan Hassan Khan
Mr. Hassan Khan
July 2, 2015
Management is the combination of arts and science to achieve the goals set forth. there is no permanent solution , would change with changing circumstances dear.
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John Dore John Dore
Dairy producer
July 2, 2015
This is an issue to be considered when designing new projects. Outer sheds should be parallel and not perpendicular to the core of the herd.
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July 4, 2015
It sound like flys are making them group had same problem last year in Hungary.
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Ralph Ginsberg Ralph Ginsberg
Animal Husbandry - Udder health & Milk Quality
July 4, 2015
I recommend contacting the man who knows and has taken care of this problem world wide
http://www.cool-cows.com/
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July 4, 2015

Re: Herding Instinct in Dairy Cows
4-7-2015; Sir, your 2 recommendations may be useful, but I recommend that an indept observation and improved commitment by your herds men can do a great magic. And if your farm is automated especially, observe where there is any significant difference in terms of enviromental conditions; It is very likely to know the exact or particular thing to rectify.
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John Dore John Dore
Dairy producer
July 5, 2015
We removed the temporary herd of in calf heifers from the extremity of the shed and very interestingly we found that the cows stayed spread out after two days
Again I posted the latest picture at 1am today on our Facebook page.
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Hassan Khan Hassan Khan
Mr. Hassan Khan
July 8, 2015
Great to hear that....

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prakash kulkarni prakash kulkarni
B. V,Sc & A .H .
August 5, 2015
yes cows have instinct to stay together better solution is to group them according to milk yield
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November 28, 2015
student of Animal and Range science at HUCA,Ethiopia.
Very interesting as i concerned.
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November 28, 2015
student of Animal and Range science at HUCA,Ethiopia.
Very interesting as i concerned.we have to group these cows according to their age,production performance,and breed type.this make easy for manegement.
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