Effects of prior handling on behaviour of heifers at milking was studied in 42 Friesian heifers (reared on nurse cows, Herd A) and 36 monozygotic twins (calfeteria-reared, Herd B). Herd A heifers were allocated to 3 treatments: No Handling (N) - no handling or parlour experience; Limited Handling (L) - moved through the parlour during two sessions; or Familiarised (F) - 14 sessions during which animals were tamed, moved through the parlour and handled around the udder. Herd B heifers were allocated to N or F only. Behaviour at various stages of milking was observed during the first 14 milkings. Despite significant variation between individuals, all Herd A heifers significantly decreased moves and kicks from Period 1 (milkings 1 - 7) to Period 2 (milkings 8 - 14), and improved milk letdown but treatments were not significantly different at the various stages of milkings. However in Herd B, pre-milking handling and experience of the milking environment consistently reduced the frequency of adverse responses by heifers at most stages of milking.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 57, , 105-108, 1997
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