Shade controls the ruminating and idleness times of dairy heifers in tropical integrated systems

  • Roberta Aparecida CarnevalliEmail author
  • Andréia Cristina Tavares de Mello
  • Admar Júnior Coletti
  • Larissa Fernanda Garcia
  • Diego Batista Xavier


Livestock production has migrated to the Midwest region of Brazil; however, these regions are environmentally unsuitable for livestock specializing in milk production, due to high temperatures. This environment can be improved using inserting trees into the pastures. The objective was to evaluate the effects of adding grazing trees on the behavior of dairy heifers in the Midwest region of Brazil. Piatã grass was managed in: open pasture system, OPS (shade level 0%), the worst treatment for animal production since the solar radiation and temperature are deleterious to animal welfare; moderate shade system (shade level 20%), the supposed adequate system where the animals find shady areas, but there is light available for photosynthesis; and intensive shade system (shade level 70%), the worst treatment for vegetal production since the light is limited for grass growth. Shade was provided by Eucalyptus trees. Heifer behavior was evaluated from 08:30 to 16:00 over three periods. In the OPS, the heifers searched for cow drinkers and remained there for a long time, refreshing themselves by floating in water and muddy places. Heifers demonstrated a behavior of attempting to return to grazing activity under the OPS during the hottest time of the day, but without success. Ruminating activity was not affected by any factor. The shade level affected the distribution of time spent on an activity and the time of day at which each activity happened. The moderate shade level is enough to ensure stability in the daily behavior of dairy heifers.


Silvopastoral Urochloa brizantha Eucalyptus Animal behavior 



The authors express their gratitude to Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES Foundation), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq Foundation) and Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (Embrapa) for funding this research.

Authors’ contributions

Roberta Aparecida Carnevalli conceived and designed experiments, got funding, implemented experimental area, trained students, analyzed data, and wrote the paper; Andrea Cristina Tavares de Mello carried out field experiments, processed, and analyzed data, and defended her master’s degree; Larissa Fernanda Garcia, Admar Junior Coletti, and Diego Batista Xavier helped in conducting the experiment and collecting data. All authors critically revised the manuscript and approved of the final version.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest. The founding sponsors had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, and in the decision to publish the results.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EMBRAPA AgrossilvipastorilSinopBrazil
  2. 2.Universidade Federal de Mato GrossoSinopBrazil

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