PhD Defence: Sense of Sensors

Monitoring behavior of dairy cows


Dissertation summary

This thesis describes daily behavioral patterns of dairy cows based on sensor data.

Dairy cows show a specific behavioral pattern over the course of the dry and lactational periods, which seem independent of major management factors. Parity differences resulted in differences in behavioral patterns. Primiparous cows showed a vast effect on daily behavioral patterns of being introduced in the lactational herd after calving. 

A rising environmental temperature had a great effect on the daily behavioral patterns of dairy cows. Heat stress is a consequence of a (too) high environmental temperature in which a cow cannot maintain their body temperature by adapting their behavior. Dairy cows in the Netherlands showed an adaptive response towards a rising environmental temperature from 12˚C. 

A successful lactation is determined by a successful transition period. A dairy cow without health issues in this period will sooner be fertile after calving compared with cows which experienced diseases. We showed that cows with less eating time in a few weeks in or around the transition period had a longer interval between calving and first insemination. 

A substantial number of cows becomes lame around the transition period. Lameness has a tremendous effect on daily behavioral patterns of dairy cows. Lame cows eat less, lose body condition and, as a consequence, are more at risk for lameness, indicating a vicious circle. 

Sensor data can contribute to optimizing the current dairy industry in which both cows, with higher health and welfare status, and farmers with more efficient management, will take advantage.

Start date and time
End date and time
The Academiegebouw (Domplein 29) and digital
PhD candidate
P.R. Hut
Sense of Sensors - Monitoring behavior of dairy cows
PhD supervisor(s)
prof. dr. M. Nielen
prof. dr. E.N. Stassen
dr. M.M. Hostens
dr. G.A. Hooijer
More information
Full text via Utrecht University Repository