Maternal Behaviour and Use of Maternity Pens in Parturient Dairy Cows: Understanding Behaviour to Optimise Future Housing Systems and Ensure Animal Welfare

PhD defence, Thursday 19 April 2018, Maria Vilain Rørvang.

2018.04.19 | Trine Berndt Turtiainen Scheelke

Maria Vilain Rørvang

Image of maternal behaviour immediately after calving. The newborn calf is covered in birth fluids, which the cow licks of the fur. In her PhD project, Maria discovered that birth fluids and newborn calves have an attracting effect on parturient dairy cows. This provided new insight to factors influencing the behaviour of parturient dairy cows and emphasized that there may be unexploited potential to utilize olfaction in the management of dairy cows.

In her PhD project, Maria studied the maternal behaviour of parturient dairy cows and their use of maternity pens, which is an important aspect for a sustainable dairy production. Maria´s research revealed new and unexpected aspects as to how the expression of the behaviour is modulated, and highlighted how other factors than previously considered can affect the behaviour of parturient cows and their use of indoor maternity facilities. As a whole, the study has increased our understanding of maternal behaviour of parturient dairy cows and may contribute to the future development of maternity facilities ultimately aiming to ensure the welfare of parturient cows and their calves.

The PhD degree was completed at AU Foulum, Aarhus University, Denmark.

This résumé was prepared by the PhD student.

Time: Thursday 19. April 2018 at 10.00.
Place: The Auditorium, AU Foulum, Blichers Allé 20, 8830 Tjele, Denmark.
Title of PhD Thesis: Maternal behaviour of parturient dairy cows and their use of maternity pens.
Contact information: Maria Vilain Rørvang, mariav.rorvang@slu.se/mariav.rorvang@gmail.com, +45 3135 1921.
Members of the assessment committee:
Professor and Reader Dr. Marie J. Haskell, Animal & Veterinary Sciences, Scottish Rural College (SRUC), Scotland.
Associate Professor Dr. Peter D. Krawczel, Animal Science, Institute of Agriculture, University of Tennessee, USA.
Senior Scientist Dr. Ole Højberg, Department of Animal Science, AU Foulum, Aarhus University, Denmark.
Main supervisor:
Senior Scientist Dr. Margit Bak Jensen, Department of Animal Science, AU Foulum, Aarhus University, Denmark.
Co-supervisors:
Senior Scientist Dr. Mette S. Herskin, Department of Animal Science, AU Foulum, Aarhus University, Denmark.
Research Director Dr. Birte L. Nielsen, Neurobiologie de l’Olfaction/Modélisation Systémique Appliquée aux Ruminants, AgroParisTech, French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), France.
Language: The PhD thesis will be defended in English.


The PhD defence is public.
The dissertation is available for reading at the Graduate School of Science and Technology/GSST,
Ny Munkegade 120, building 1520, rooms 128-134, 8000 Aarhus C.

PhD defence
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Revised 16.04.2018