The present study investigated the flooring preference during the 30 h before parturition in Holstein dairy cows housed individually in a maternity pen. Seventeen multiparous cows were moved, on average, 2 d before expected calving date into an individual maternity pen with 3 different flooring surfaces: 10 cm of sand, pebble-top rubber mats, or concrete flooring, each covered with 15 cm of straw. Calving location, lying time, and total time and number of lying bouts on each of the floor types were recorded during 2 periods: precalving (24 to 29 h before calving) and at calving (0 to 5h before calving). Ten cows calved on sand, 6 on concrete, and 1 on the rubber mat. Lying bouts increased during the hours closest to calving, regardless of flooring. The number of lying bouts did not differ between flooring types precalving but cows had more lying bouts on sand and concrete compared with rubber at calving. Cows spent more time lying down on sand and concrete compared with rubber precalving, but lying times did not differ between treatments at calving. Cows that calved on sand spent more time lying on sand at calving compared with the other 2 flooring types. Cows that calved on concrete did not show a flooring preference at calving. These results indicate that rubber mats are the least preferred by dairy cows in the maternity pens, even when covered with a deep layer of straw.
Keywords: cow comfort; lying time; parturition; preference test.
Copyright © 2014 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.