My colleague Anne-Marieke Smid, a Ph.D. student in the UBC Animal Welfare Program, is nearing the end of a study she’s conducting. She is housing lactating cows in groups of 12 at a time. They have deep sand-bedded freestalls indoors and get access to an outdoor area.
In one of her previous studies, she gave cows access to a pasture overnight, but Anne-Marieke is also interested in understanding how cows respond to other types of outdoor options besides grass. In another study, she offered them an outdoor sand pack overnight. Now Anne-Marieke is providing cows with 24-hour access to a bark mulch pack, and she collected data in both summer and winter.
We’ve been working on a poster about these studies to present at the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar next month (March 7-10) in Red Deer, Alberta. If you’re going to be there, please come by the UBC Dairy Education & Research Centre booth to meet us and we’ll tell you all about it! (*Update: see here for a recap of the meeting!)
This morning, it was time for a new group of cows to go outdoors for the first time and get used to the bark mulch pack. Last week we got a great deal of snow and there was still quite a bit on the ground, but today was a warmer day. Check out the photos below to see what the cows thought!