The Use of an Automatic Concentrate Feeding Station in a Loose Housing System for Dairy Cattle
Part 1: Disturbance at the Feeding Station

Johanna Helin, Anu Katainen, Emmi Manninen, Marianna Norring, Kaisa Kaustell ja Hannu Saloniemi


The individual feeding of dairy cattle in a free housing system can be acquired by using an automatic feeding station for concentrate feeding. The feeding station commonly used in Finland has an open back part, which allows other cows to disturb the cow in the feeding station by butting or pushing her. In this study, we looked at how much such disturbance there is at the feeding station and how often this leads to an interrupted visit to the feeding station. In addition, we wanted to know if there are individuals that are disturbed more often than others, or if there are individuals that disturb others more often than average. The study was performed in a free housing system in which 42 dairy cows were observed in three separate phases for a total of 54 hours. Cows were disturbed during 38–50% of visits to the feeding station. 89–92% of the disturbed visits ended up being interrupted. 34–45% of all visits were interrupted. Cows that were on a reduced diet disturbed other cows at the feeding station more often than others. To reduce disturbance, a gate could be added to the feeding station to prevent other cows from butting the cow in the feeding station.