The objectives of this experiment were to study factors determining social dominance of grazing dairy cows and the relationship between social dominance and milk production under grazing systems. A total of 252 spring calving Friesian x Jersey dairy cows in three groups differing in stocking rate and herd size grazing perennial ryegrass and white clover pasture were observed for three months in early lactation to determine their dominance value. All cows ranged in age from 2 to 11 years and live weight (LW) ranged from 340 kg to 648 kg. Dominance values were determined by social interactions indicating dominance and submission between cows. Social interactions were recorded on a win and loss basis. In all three groups, the dominance value was positively correlated (P<0.05) with age (r = 0.42 to 0.65), live weight (r = 0.33 to 0.47) and milk production (r = 0.32 to 0.42), but no relationship with body condition score was found. In conclusion, older cows with higher live weight were more dominant and tended to have higher milk production.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 76, Adelaide, 69-72, 2016
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