The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of training on the behaviour and milk production of heifers. Approximately three weeks prior to calving, heifers from two commercial farms were either trained over three days to the rotary milking parlour (TRAIN: n = 104) or left undisturbed in the paddock (CON: n = 113). Behavioural observations of heifers during the milking process were recorded over the first week of lactation. Behaviours recorded included the performance of flinching, stepping and/or kicking and the duration to attach the cluster. Individual heifer milk yields, milking durations, average milking flow rates and reattachment count of the cluster were recorded daily for the first six weeks of lactation. During the milking process, TRAIN heifers performed more leg lifts, a greater number of backward kicks and the number of times the milking cluster had to be reattached during each milking was greater than CON heifers. There was no difference in milk production measures between TRAIN and CON heifers. These results suggest that the method of training used in this study was not adequate to reduce the behavioural response of heifers to milking during the first week of lactation.

SK, Dowling, and MA Sutherland

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 72, Christchurch, 134-138, 2012
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