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Comparison of the effects of weaning and castration when conducted separately or in combination on the behaviour of crossbred beef cattle

By Christian Lambertz, Antje Farke-Röver, Eva Moors, Matthias Gauly

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Abstract

The objective of the present study was to evaluate the behavioural effects of Burdizzo castration of crossbred beef calves when weaned and castrated separately (castrated 8 weeks after weaning) or in combination. Over two consecutive years a total of 111 Limousin×Simmental male calves were included in the study. At an age of 7 months calves were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 treatment groups and either weaned in week-8 (Bull-8; N=27); weaned in week-8 and castrated in week 0 (Cas-8; N=26); weaned in week 0 (Bull-0; N=29); or weaned and castrated in week 0 (Cas-0; N=29). The behaviour of the calves including the number of vocalisations and time spent feeding, lying and standing/walking was recorded during the first 3 days of week 0. Bull-8 and Cas-8 did not show any vocalisation activity during the observation period. In contrast, Bull-0 and Cas-0, showed more than 3 calls/10min period on the first day, which decreased steadily until the third day in both groups. In all groups the time spent feeding increased from day 1 to 3. Bull-8 animals did not vary their standing/walking and lying behaviour, but Cas-8 increased the time spent standing/walking and decreased lying. Bull-0 decreased the proportion of standing/walking from approximately 60 to 40% and increased lying from 23 to more than 30%. A similar rate of change with standing/walking decreasing from 70 to 50% and lying increasing from 12 to 20% was noted in Cas-0. Compared to bulls, castrates spent more time standing/walking and less lying. From week-8 to 0, Bull-8 and Cas-8 gained about 700g/d, whereas the 2 other groups gained more than 1.000g/d. Average daily gains from week 0–3 of Cas-8 were lower than in the other groups (P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 161
Pages 28-33
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.09.003
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Tags
  1. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  2. Castration
  3. Cattle
  4. weaning
  5. Weight