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Kovacs L.,MTA SZIE Large Animal Clinical Research Group | Kovacs L.,Szent Istvan University | Kezer F.L.,MTA SZIE Large Animal Clinical Research Group | Kezer F.L.,Szent Istvan University | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

We investigated the associations between heart rate variability (HRV) parameters and some housing-And individual-related variables using the canonical correspondence analysis (CCOA) method in lactating Holstein-Friesian dairy cows. We collected a total of 5200 5-min interbeat interval (IBI) samples from 260 animals on five commercial dairy farms [smaller-scale farms with 70 (Farm 1, n = 50) and 80 cows per farm (Farm 2, n = 40), and larger-scale farms with 850 (Farm 3, n = 66), 1900 (Farm 4, n = 60) and 1200 (Farm 5, n = 45) cows. Dependent variables included HRV parameters, which reflect the activity of the autonomic nervous system: heart rate (HR), the root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD) in IBIs, the standard deviation 1 (SD1), the high frequency (HF) component of HRV and the ratio between the low frequency (LF) and the HF parameter (LF/HF). Explanatory variables were group size, space allowance, milking frequency, parity, daily milk yield, body condition score, locomotion score, farm, season and physical activity (lying, lying and rumination, standing, standing and rumination and feeding). Physical activity involved in standing, feeding and in rumination was associated with HRV parameters, indicating a decreasing sympathetic and an increasing vagal tone in the following order: feeding, standing, standing and rumination, lying and rumination, lying. Objects representing summer positioned close to HR and LF and far from SD1, RMSSD and HF indicate a higher sympathetic and a lower vagal activity. Objects representing autumn, spring and winter associated with increasing vagal activity, in this order. Time-domain measures of HRV were associated with most of the housing-And individual-related explanatory variables. Higher HR and lower RMSSD and SD1 were associated with higher group size, milking frequency, parity and milk yield, and low space allowance. Higher parity and milk yield were associated with higher sympathetic activity as well (higher LF/HF), while individuals with lower locomotion scores (lower degree of lameness) were characterized with a higher sympathetic and a lower vagal tone (higher HR and LF/HF and lower RMSSD and SD1). Our findings indicate that the CCOA method is useful in demonstrating associations between HRV and selected explanatory variables. We consider physical activity, space allowance, group size, milking frequency, parity, daily milk yield, locomotion score and season to be the most important variables in further HRV studies on dairy cows. © 2015 Kovács et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Kovacs L.,Szent Istvan University | Tozser J.,Szent Istvan University | Szenci O.,Szent Istvan University | Poti P.,Szent Istvan University | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2014

Interest in the monitoring of heart rate variability (HRV) has increased recently, as it gives more detailed and immediate information about the level of stress than traditional behavioral or hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal measures. In this study, we evaluated heart rate (HR) and parasympathetic HRV parameters to monitor cardiac stress responses to palpation per rectum (PPR) in lactating (LACT; n = 11) and nonlactating (NLACT; n = 12) dairy cows. Heart rate and HRV were recorded from 40 min before PPR until 120 min after it was completed. Heart rate, the root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD), and the high-frequency component (HF) of HRV were analyzed by examining 5-min time windows. To compare cardiac responses to PPR between groups, changes in HR and HRV parameters were calculated as area under the curve (AUC) for LACT and NLACT cows. An immediate increase in HR was detected during PPR in both LACT (+21.4 ± 2.4 beats/min) and NLACT cows (+20.6 ± 2.3 beats/min); however, no differences were found between groups on the basis of parameters of AUC. The increase in HR in both groups along with a parallel decrease in RMSSD (LACT cows: -5.2 ± 0.4 ms; NLACT cows: -5.1 ± 0.4 ms) and HF [LACT cows: -10.1 ± 0.8 nu (where nu = normalized units); NLACT cows: -16.9 ± 1.2 nu] during PPR indicate an increase in the sympathetic, and a decrease in the parasympathetic tone of the autonomic nervous system. The increase in RMSSD (LACT cows: +7.3 ± 0.7 ms; NL cows: +17.8 ± 2.2 ms) and in HF (LACT cows: +24.3 ± 2.6 nu; NLACT cows: +32.7 ± 3.5 nu) immediately after PPR indicated a rapid increase in parasympathetic activity, which decreased under the baseline values 10 min following PPR. The amplitude and the maximum RMSSD and HF values were greater in NLACT cows than in LACT animals, suggesting a higher short-term cardiac responsiveness of NLACT cows. However, the magnitude and the duration of the stress response were greater in LACT cows, as indicated by the analysis of AUC parameters (area under the HRV response curve and time to return to baseline). Cow response to the PPR was more prominent in parasympathetic HRV measures than in HR. Based on our results, the effect of PPR on the cows' cardiac stress responses may have an impact on animal welfare on dairy farms, and investigating the effect of lactation on the cardiac stress reactions could prove useful in modeling bovine stress sensitivity. Further research is needed to find out whether the differences due to lactation are physiological or management related. © 2014 American Dairy Science Association.


Kovacs L.,Szent Istvan University | Tozser J.,Szent Istvan University | Bakony M.,Rumino Vet Bt | Jurkovich V.,Szent Istvan University
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2013

Heart rate variability (HRV), as a physiological measure of animal welfare, was investigated in 36 cows milked in a parallel milking parlor with nonvoluntary exit. Heart rate variability parameters measured during the morning resting (baseline period) were compared with those measured during different stages of the entire milking process. No differences were found in HRV parameters between the baseline period, preparation, and main milking. A considerable reduction in vagal activity was detected during the movement of the cows to the milking parlor (driving) and while cows were in the holding area. The parasympathetic measures of HRV decreased whereas the sympatho-vagal balance increased compared with baseline. The same pattern was observed regarding the stage between removing the teat cups and leaving the milking parlor (waiting). No differences in any sympathetic measures were observed between the baseline period and any of the milking stages. These findings indicate that the milking process itself (preparation and main milking) is not stressful for cows. Decreased parasympathetic activity during driving might be the result of the physical activity of the cows, whereas waiting in the holding area and in the milking stall after milking caused stress for animals. © 2013 American Dairy Science Association.

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