Abstract #M22

# M22
Feeding and social behaviors change prior to metritis diagnosis in transition dairy cows.
Heather W. Neave*1, Julia C. Lomb1, Julie M. Huzzey1, Daniel M. Weary1, Marina A. G. von Keyserlingk1, 1University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Metritis is common in the days after calving and can reduce milk production and reproductive performance. Early identification of metritic animals may improve the welfare of affected dairy cows and the economic viability of the farm. The aim of this study was to identify feeding and social behaviors that could be used for the early detection of metritis. Healthy Holstein cows were enrolled in the study 3 wk before calving and all behaviors were recorded using an electronic feeding system. Metritis was diagnosed based on condition of vaginal discharge assessed on d 6 after calving. Twenty-one primiparous and 12 multiparous cows were diagnosed with metritis (more than 50% pus, or watery and red-brown in color with putrid smell) with no other health conditions; these were compared with 49 healthy primiparous and 96 healthy multiparous cows. In the 5 d leading up to clinical diagnosis, metritic primiparous cows ate less (metritic: 13.0 ± 0.42 kg DM/d; healthy: 14.6 ± 0.27 kg DM/d), spent less time eating (metritic: 137.7 ± 5.9 min/d; healthy: 152.1 ± 3.8 min/d) and had fewer visits to the feed bins per day (metritic: 53.8 ± 3.1; healthy: 65.5 ± 2.0) compared with healthy primiparous cows; healthy and metritic multiparous cows did not differ in these measures. No differences were found between healthy and metritic primiparous or multiparous cows in feeding rate and number of meals per day. Metritic multiparous cows were more likely than healthy multiparous cows to be competitively replaced at a feed bin by another cow (proportion of total feed bin visits where cow was replaced; metritic: 0.25 ± 0.02 vs. healthy: 0.20 ± 0.01). We conclude that cows at risk for metritis can be identified by changes in feeding and social behavior in the days before diagnosis.

Key Words: sickness behavior, disease, intake