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Abstract

The objectives of this study were to examine the option of being able to use rumination time (RT) as a form of stress indicator in the first thirty days after calving, and to determine the rela- tionship between rumination time, blood cortisol levels, and lactate concentration levels in dairy cows during the first thirty days after calving. Ninety cows which produced milk (DIM) within 1-30 days were selected and categorised into the following groups: the first group (1) fell within 1-7 days after parturition (dpp) (n=30); the second group (2) fell within 8-14dpp (n=30); and the third group (3) fell within 15-30dpp (n=30) after calving. The cows were milked using Lely Astronaut® A3 milking robots with free traffic. The blood samples were tested using the fluorescence enzyme immunoassay method for cortisol analysis. Lactate concentrations were tested with a Lactate Pro2 ®. The RT increased during all of the exploratory periods (with readings between 1.12-4.90%). A decrease was also observed in the lactate levels (by 1.10 times) and cortisol levels (by 1.98 times, p<0.05) of cows which fell within the 8-14dpp group, when compared to an average of 1-7dpp in the previous study period (15-30dpp). However, lactate concentrations increased (by 1.84 times, p<0.05) as well as cortisol levels (by 2.09 times, p <0.01) when compared with a figure between 8-14 dpp on the average. The results obtained indicate that, RT increased during all exploratory periods, while a decrease by 1.10 times and 1.98 times was observed in lactate levels and cortisol levels, respectively. During the entire period of the study RT was positively correlated with the lactate concentration levels, and negatively correlated with cortisol levels. Within a period of 1-14 days, a negative correlation was determined with lactate levels along with a 15-30dpp-positive correlation coefficient. In conclusion, RT can be used as a kind of stress indicator for cows in the first thirty days after calving; however, further research is required to ascertain this conclusion.
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