Kop Fogsgaard, K., Bertelsen, M., Winther Christensen, J. 2019. Does shelter design matter? A note on the effect of two shelter types on shelter use by cattle during winter. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 34, 18-21.
Little is known about the effect of shelter design on sheltering behavior in out-wintered cattle. In this pilot study, we explored the effects of two different shelter designs (rectangular: 50 m2 vs. hexagonal 53 m2 with three separate compartments) on shelter use by cattle. Two shelters of each type were included in the study, and shelter use by 67 Aberdeen Angus cattle in four groups was recorded in a crossover study, ensuring that all groups were tested with both shelter types. Shelter use (i.e., number of cattle standing or lying inside each shelter) was recorded by use of infrared trail cameras. Rectangular shelters were used significantly more than hexagonal shelters (P < 0.001). The proportion of animals in the shelters that were lying down did not differ between the shelter types. Cold, windy, and wet conditions increased sheltering behavior. In this study, cattle preferred rectangular shelters over hexagonal shelters possibly because they prefer to shelter together as a group. Further studies on optimal shelter design are required.