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Zipp K.A.,University of Kassel | Barth K.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Knierim U.,University of Kassel
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2016

In systems where dairy cows are milked and additionally suckle their calves during the first months of lactation, problems with alveolar milk ejection during machine-milking occur. As olfaction is a key sense for kin recognition and acceptance at the udder, olfactory stimulation might alleviate this challenge. In this pilot study, we investigated whether cows behaviourally respond to calf hair presented in the parlour, and whether this is affected by suckling the own calf or not. Discrimination between hair of the own calf in a thin cloth bag ('own'), hair of an alien calf ('alien') and a control cloth bag without calf hair ('no') was tested among 17 multiparous and 6 primiparous cows with free calf-contact ('contact') and 13 multiparous and 4 primiparous cows separated within 12 h after parturition from their calves ('control'). Both groups were milked twice daily in a tandem milking parlour, where they were individually tested in six consecutive milkings (trials) starting between the 12th and 20th day of lactation. Two of three olfactory stimuli were simultaneously presented. Sniffing or licking of the stimuli during the first minutes of milking (response duration in % of total observation time) and number of trials with any response (frequency of responses) were recorded. Calf hair ('own' or 'alien') elicited responses in 60% of the animals at least once, but altogether there were only overt responses in 23% of trials. Significant differences in responsiveness towards the different stimuli were found in terms of frequency of responses for all cows (n = 28 without missing data, p = 0.003). Response duration differed significantly for all responsive multiparous cows (n = 12, p = 0.049) and in tendency for all responsive heifers (n = 8, p = 0.061) and for responsive 'contact' cows and heifers (n = 11, p = 0.034). In all these cases, responses were highest for 'own', intermediate for 'alien' and lowest for 'no'. In the post hoc tests, no significant differences between 'own' and 'alien' could be detected. Despite low response rates to the presented olfactory stimuli in general, we conclude that the responsive multiparous cows and 'contact' heifers were able to perceive the presented calf odour and preferred to sniff/lick those stimuli compared to a stimulus with 'no' odour. © 2016 Elsevier B.V. Source


Schultheiss U.,University of Kassel | Schrader L.,Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry ITT | Knierim U.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Herrmann H.-J.,Advisory Team Animal Husbandry | And 2 more authors.
Landtechnik | Year: 2015

The "on-farm self-assessment" specified by the Animal Welfare Act from 2014 requires the livestock keeper to assess and monitor appropriate animal-based measures ("animal welfare indicators") with the aim to achieve higher individual responsibility of livestock keepers for the well-being of their animals. The assessment serves to raise awareness among livestock keepers and to enable them to identify any weaknesses existing. As the Animal Welfare Act does not contain any secondary legislation, there has so far been a lack of more precise provisions regarding the content and scopeof the self-assessment system. In order to identify appropriate indicators which address the most important animal welfareproblems known from practice, around 50 experts have selected indicators for assessing animal welfare with regard to reliability, validity and practicability. In on-farm self-assessment, the sets of largely animal-based indicators selected for cattle, pigs and poultry (hens and turkeys) should be surveyed and evaluated as completely as possible. Integration intofarm management systems is recommended. This paper exemplarily presents the set of indicators proposed for dairy cattle. © 2015 by the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution License. Source


Gronle A.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Hess J.,University of Kassel | Bohm H.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming
Field Crops Research | Year: 2015

Winter peas (Pisum sativum L.) are a promising alternative to spring peas in organic farming. Intercropping winter peas and cereals may be a beneficial way to improve lodging resistance in normal-leafed and weed suppression in semi-leafless winter peas. At the same time, there is an increasing interest in a reduction in tillage intensity, e.g. shallow ploughing. A normal-leafed, coloured-flowered (cv. E.F.B. 33) and a semi-leafless, white-flowered winter pea (cv. James) were cultivated as sole crops or in intercrops with triticale (Triticosecale Wittmarck) on a loam soil under Northern German conditions during two seasons (2009/2010, 2010/2011) and compared for winter survival, lodging resistance, yield performance, grain quality and succeeding winter wheat yield. The two ploughing depths were short-term shallow ploughing to 10-12cm and continuous deep ploughing to 25-27cm. Intercropping did not improve winter survival, which depended on pre-winter development. Owing to the low lodging resistance of normal-leafed winter pea E.F.B. 33, sole cropping is not advisable. Intercropping normal-leafed winter pea E.F.B. 33 and triticale resulted in a better yield performance (2.54-3.39 td.m.ha-1) than the semi-leafless winter pea James sole (0.97-1.79 td.m.ha-1) or intercrops (2.05-2.86 td.m.ha-1). E.F.B. 33 had significantly higher grain crude protein, crude fibre and macronutrient contents, whereas the crude fat, starch and sugar content as well as the energetic feed value were higher in James. Wheat yields after E.F.B. 33 sole and intercrops were higher than after the corresponding James sole or intercrops. The biomass production, yield performance and the energetic feed value of winter pea sole and intercrops were comparable between ploughing depths or higher after shallow ploughing. Thus, E.F.B. 33-triticale intercrops provided better results than James sole or intercrops, except for the energetic feed value, and shallow ploughing was a good alternative to deep ploughing for the cultivation of winter peas. © 2015 Elsevier B.V. Source


Moos J.H.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Schrader S.,Thunen Institute of Biodiversity | Paulsen H.M.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Rahmann G.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming
Applied Soil Ecology | Year: 2016

Reduced tillage has several advantages over conventional tillage (CT), including the promotion of earthworm communities and the reduction of input of energy and labour. However, its application in organic farming is mainly hindered through increasing weed pressure. One way to counteract this drawback might be to introduce occasional reduced tillage (ORT), which means applying methods of reduced tillage only in combination with selected crops. Against this background we hypothesized that (i) ORT rapidly promotes biomass, abundance and species richness of earthworm communities and that (ii) ORT generates a financial surplus for farmers. Therefore, a field experiment was established for triticale (x Triticosecale) cultivation on loamy soils in Northern Germany. The influence of tillage regimes on earthworms was investigated in a non-randomized design with n = 3 fields for the ORT and CT treatment. Earthworm biomass, abundance and species richness were investigated in October 2012 and in April and October 2013. Yields were determined for the three fields under each tillage system, each field with four non-randomized replicates, before harvest in 2013. The ORT treatment consisted of two to three tillage operations prior to seeding with a maximal cultivation depth of 15 cm and without ploughing, whereas the CT treatment consisted of a ploughing depth of 25-30 cm and one to four other steps for seedbed preparation prior to seeding. In total, seven earthworm species were identified. Our data revealed that earthworm biomass was significantly reduced under CT, both four weeks and about seven months after tillage. This effect holds true for the number of earthworm individuals in autumn (four weeks after ploughing), but not for the number of earthworm individuals in spring (seven months after ploughing). Results of contribution margin analysis showed no consistent trend referring to tillage measures. Two fields, which performed well under CT, showed a financial surplus (+24% and +13%) when managed with ORT. At the same time one field, performing poorly under CT, generated financial deficits (-10%) under ORT. Overall ORT had immediate positive effects on earthworm populations. Furthermore, this management scheme might have positive effects on the economic outcomes of organic crop rotations if overall growing conditions are sufficient. Along with methods usually applied to investigate earthworm performance, we checked whether the number of surface casts could help estimate earthworm performance. It became apparent that the number of surface casts cannot be used as a general predictor of earthworm performance. The number of individuals of Lumbricus terrestris, the number of anecic individuals and the total earthworm biomass can be estimated the most reliable by counting surface casts. © 2016 Elsevier B.V. Source


Gronle A.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Lux G.,FH Dresden | Bohm H.,Thunen Institute of Organic Farming | Schmidtke K.,FH Dresden | And 5 more authors.
Soil and Tillage Research | Year: 2015

The effect of ploughing depth and mechanical soil loading on the performance of pea sole crops, oat sole crops and pea-oat intercrops was investigated in field experiments under organic farming conditions at two sites in Germany in 2009 and 2010. The two ploughing depths were short-term shallow ploughing to a soil depth of 7-10. cm and deep ploughing to 25-30. cm. Wheel loads of 26 and 45. kN, which correspond to typical rear wheel loads of field machinery used during sowing operations, were compared to an uncompacted control. Shallow ploughing resulted in a greater penetration resistance in the 14-28. cm soil layer compared to deep ploughing. An increase in mechanical soil loading intensity increased the bulk density and decreased the air capacity in the 10-15. cm soil layer, whereas the penetration resistance was not affected. The annual weed infestation in pea sole crops was higher after shallow than after deep ploughing at both sites. Pea-oat intercrops compensated for the higher weed infestation after shallow ploughing at one site due to their excellent weed suppressive ability. Dependent on oat productivity, pea-oat intercrops produced comparable or higher grain and protein yields than pea sole crops. Intercropped pea yield components and grain protein yields were significantly lower than those of sole cropped peas. The ploughing depth did not affect pea grain yields in either year and oat yields in 2009. Due to a better emergence, the grain and protein yield of sole and intercropped oats were significantly higher after shallow ploughing in 2010. Mechanical soil loading did not have any effect on the yield performance of pea sole crops, oat sole crops and pea-oat intercrops in 2009. In 2010, mechanical soil loading of 26. kN and 45. kN decreased the pea grain yield by 12.1% and 20.8% respectively, regardless of sole or intercropped. Neither the grain yield nor the grain quality of sole and intercropped oats was affected by the mechanical soil loading in 2010. Grain and crude protein yields of total crop stands decreased with increasing mechanical soil loading after deep ploughing, whereas no significant differences were revealed after shallow ploughing. The present study confirms the positive qualities of pea-oat intercrops with regard to weed suppression and plant performance. Shallow ploughing mitigates the risk of a decrease in crop performance caused by heavy field traffic and provides an alternative to deep ploughing even in low weed competitive organically farmed grain legumes. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. Source

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