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Effect of reduced water intake by lactating dairy cows on behaviour, milk yield and blood composition
  1. W Little,
  2. KA Collis,
  3. PT Gleed,
  4. BF Sansom,
  5. WM Allen and
  6. AJ Quick


A herd of lactating British Friesian cows was divided into two equal groups. After 14 days during which all the cows had free access to water one group (restricted) was allowed only 50 per cent of the voluntary water intake of the other group (control). After four days when the experiment was terminated, the milk yield of the restricted group had fallen to 74 per cent of that of the control group and their mean body-weight was reduced by 14 per cent. In the restricted group there were significant increases in the concentrations of urea, sodium, total protein and copper in serum, in the osmolality of serum, in the plasma activities of the enzymes creatine kinase and glutamate-oxaloacetate transaminase and in the packed cell volume of blood. The restricted cows behaved very aggressively around their water trough and spent more time in its vicinity. They spent less time lying down than the cows of the control group and some of them were not seen to drink and were withdrawn from the experiment before the end of four days. In a second experiment half the herd was allowed approximately 90 per cent of the water intake of the control group for 14 days. Decreases in milk yield and body-weight and changes in blood composition were much smaller and difficult to detect. However, changes in behaviour were still easily recognised although not as marked as in the first experiment.

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