You are here: Home / Journal Articles / Calf mortality in semi-domestic reindeer ( Rangifer tarandus) in a Scottish herd: the impact of maternal age and individual differences between cow / About

Calf mortality in semi-domestic reindeer ( Rangifer tarandus) in a Scottish herd: the impact of maternal age and individual differences between cow

By M. W. Jorgensen, S. Jarvis, M. J. Brewer, P. J. Goddard

View Resource (HTM)

Licensed under

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

High calf mortality rate is a significant problem facing semi-domestic reindeer ( Rangifer tarandus) production around the world. Mortality rates, commonly due to predation, can range from 5 to 70%, which constitutes a great welfare concern. This study examined the influence of quantifiable maternal characteristics on reindeer calf survival. Data were compiled from 18 years' worth of records on the survival of calves in the Cairngorm reindeer herd (Scottish Highlands, UK). Overall, mortality rate of calves (n=635) in the herd was 34.9% to six months old, rising to 47.8% by one year old. For both Total Calf Survival (including perinatal losses) and Postnatal Calf Survival (excluding perinatal losses) of calves up to six months old, the only maternal trait found to significantly influence calf survival was the age of the cow at calving. Calves of very young and old cows showed higher mortality rates. Only 40% of the cows were associated with 77% of calf deaths and it was demonstrated that there were significant individual differences between cows in relation to their ability to consistently rear calves successfully. These findings can be applied to reduce calf mortality within herds, guiding selection towards females with successful reproductive histories and with ages falling in the prime productive range (3-11 years old). Additionally, annual variation had a highly significant influence on calf survival with rising mortality over the recorded period, indicating a role of environment on survival and an avenue for further research to investigate the impact of external factors, such as climate and pathogen load on post-natal loss.

Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 24
Issue 2
Pages 173-183
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
DOI 10.7120/09627286.24.2.173
Language English
Author Address 380B Haecker Hall, 1364 Eckles Ave, University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN 55108, USA.jorge505@umn.edu
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

Tags
  1. Age
  2. Animals
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Bovidae
  5. British Isles
  6. Calves
  7. Cattle
  8. Climate
  9. Commonwealth of Nations
  10. Death
  11. Deer
  12. Developed countries
  13. Europe
  14. Highlands
  15. Mammals
  16. Maternal effects
  17. Mathematics and statistics
  18. mortality
  19. OECD countries
  20. peer-reviewed
  21. predation
  22. Ruminants
  23. survival
  24. ungulates
  25. United Kingdom
  26. variation
  27. vertebrates
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed