Sutherland, M. A., Lowe, G. L., Cox, N. R. et al. 2019. Effects of flooring surface and a supplemental heat source on location preference, behaviour and growth rates of dairy goat kids. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 217, 36-42.

The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of different flooring surfaces and a supplemental heat source (heat lamps) on location preference, behaviour and growth rate of dairy goat kids. Eighty female Saanen kids were enrolled in the study at 3 days of age (SD: 0.9 d) and allocated to one of four treatment pens (n = 4 pens/treatment, 5 goats/pen): 1) wood shavings with two 250 W heat lamps (WS+H), 2) wood shavings without heat lamps (WS), 3) metal mesh with two heat lamps (MM+H) or 4) metal mesh without heat lamps (MM). Kids were reared in treatment pens for 8 days. To assess location preference, pens were divided into equally sized zones and time spent lying or upright in each zone was determined from video recordings observed continuously for 19 h/d on two separate days. Average temperatures in the warm (zones 1 and 2), medium (zones 3 and 4) and cold (zones 5 and 6) zones were 15.0 °C, 11.8 °C, 10.8 °C and 11.7 °C, 11.1 °C, 11.2 °C in pens with and without heat lamps, respectively. Frequency of walking, running, self-grooming and interactions (environment and pen mate) were recorded over the whole pen on the same two observation days. Lying times and bouts were recorded continuously over the 8 days using accelerometers. Milk consumption was recorded daily, and body weight gain was calculated over the trial period on a pen level. Kids housed on wood shavings with heat lamps spent more time lying than in all other treatments (P < 0.001). Kids managed on wood shavings were observed running more often than kids on metal mesh (P = 0.04). Kids preferred to lie in the warm zone when heat lamps were present regardless of flooring type (% of time lying in warm zone: WS+H: 98%, MM+H: 94%; SEM: 7.0%; P < 0.001). Kids on average spent 97% of the time lying in the two end zones (1 and 6) and 3% in the middle zones (2 to 5), irrespective of treatment. Milk consumption was not affected by treatment, however, kids managed on wood shavings tended (P = 0.052) to gain more weight than kids on metal mesh. These results indicate that rearing kids on wood shavings improves welfare and performance, which can be further enhanced by providing an additional heat source.

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