Relationships among Behavior, Physiological States and Body Weight Gain in Grazing Holstein Heifers

  • Hasegawa, N. (Department of Plant and Animal Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, Miyazaki University) ;
  • Hidari, H. (Department of Animal Production and Agricultural Economics, Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine)
  • Received : 2000.04.28
  • Accepted : 2001.02.06
  • Published : 2001.06.01


This study examined the behavior of dairy heifers and the factors affecting the performance of them on pasture. Behavior of 10 Holstein heifers in a herd of 25 animals that rotationally grazed five 8-ha pastures was observed and recorded every 5 minutes during 24 hours; body weights were measured once a month from June to October. Blood and rumen fluid samples were collected from 5 of them bimonthly. Chemical composition was analyzed for the forage samples collected each month. CP content (DM basis) of herbage ranged from 12.2 (June) to 17.2% (October) and ADF from 31.1 (October) to 39.1% (July). Standing (posture) time was different significantly among months (p<0.001) ranging from 48.3 to 61.3% of 24 hours and was longer in July and August (61.3% and 58.3%, respectively) when ADF content of herbage was higher than in the other months. Grazing time which significantly differed among months (p<0.001) ranged from 29.1 to 41.6% of 24 hours and was shorter in June and September (29.1% and 33.0%, respectively) when ADF content was lower than in the other months. Average DG through the experiment period was 0.74 kg/day. August was the lowest in DG (0.41 kg/day) and the longest in rumination time and standing-rumination time among months. Animals of higher DG had a shorter standing time (r=-0.36, p<0.01) and a longer lying-rumination time (r=0.55, p<0.001) throughout the experiment. Total protein concentration in blood ranged from 9.04 to 9.64 g/dl and was negatively correlated with DG (r=-0.65, p<0.05). Phospholipid concentration of blood ranged from 119.66 to 156.40 mg/dl and was negatively correlated with DG (r=-0.57, p<0.05). VFA in rumen fluid, acetic acid proportion (ranging from 69.35 to 74.76%) and butyric acid proportion (ranging from 7.18 to 12.05%) showed significant differences among months (p<0.05, p<0.001, respectively). Butyric acid proportion was significantly related with DG (r=0.60, p<0.05).


Behavior;Heifer;Body Weight Gain;Physiological States;Pasture;Grazing

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