Influence of Barn Climate, Body Postures and Milk Yield on the Respiration Rate of Dairy Cows

Severino Pinto 1 , 2 , Gundula Hoffmann 1 , Christian Ammon 1 , Barbara Amon 1 , 3 , Wolfgang Heuwieser 4 , Ilan Halachmi 5 , Thomas Banhazi 6 , and Thomas Amon 1 , 2
  • 1 Department of Engineering for Livestock Management, Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy – ATB, , 14469, Potsdam, Germany
  • 2 Institute of Animal Hygiene and Environmental Health, Free University Berlin, 14163, Berlin, Germany
  • 3 Faculty of Civil Engineering, Architecture and Environmental Engineering, University of Zielona Góra, 65-417, Zielona Góra, Poland
  • 4 Clinic for Animal Reproduction, Free University Berlin, 14163, Berlin, Germany
  • 5 Precision Livestock Farming Laboratory, Agricultural Research Organization – The Volcani Center – ARO, 7505101, Rishon LeZion, Israel
  • 6 School of Civil Engineering & Surveying Faculty of Health, University of Southern Queensland, 4350, Toowoomba, Australia


The main objective of this study was to identify the influences of different climatic conditions and cow-related factors on the respiration rate (RR) of lactating dairy cows. Measurements were performed on 84 lactating Holstein Friesian dairy cows (first to eighth lactation) in Brandenburg, Germany. The RR was measured hourly or twice a day with up to three randomly chosen measurement days per week between 0700 h and 1500 h (GMT + 0100 h) by counting right thoraco-abdominal movements of the cows. Simultaneously with RR measurements, cow body postures (standing vs. lying) were documented. Cows’ milk yield and days in milk were recorded daily. The ambient temperature and relative humidity of the barn were recorded every 5 min to calculate the current temperature-humidity index (THI). The data were analyzed for interactions between THI and cow-related factors (body postures and daily milk yield) on RR using a repeated measurement linear mixed model. There was a significant effect of the interaction between current THI category and body postures on RR. The RRs of cows in lying posture in the THI < 68, 68 ≤ THI < 72 and 72 ≤ THI < 80 categories (37, 46 and 53 breaths per minute (bpm), respectively) were greater than those of standing cows in the same THI categories (30, 38 and 45 bpm, respectively). For each additional kilogram of milk produced daily, an increase of 0.23±0.19 bpm in RR was observed. Including cow-related factors may help to prevent uncertainties of RR in heat stress predictions. In practical application, these factors should be included when predicting RR to evaluate heat stress on dairy farms.

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