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Associations between milk intake and activity in the first days of a calf's life and later growth and health

By Anne Marie de Passillé, Marine Rabeyrin, Jeffrey Rushen

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Abstract

We examined whether calves' milk intake and activity in the days after birth predict later growth and the risk of illness. Female Holstein calves ( n=130) were housed in individual pens where they were allowed ad libitum milk from birth to 5 days of age. Daily milk intakes were recorded and accelerometers attached to the calves measured time spent standing and lying down. After 5 days, calves were housed in group pens with four to nine calves per group and allowed 12 L/day of milk and ad libitum hay and starter from automated feeders. Calves were weighed at birth (birth weight=BW) and at 28 days of age and health status was determined daily. Digestible energy (DE) intakes were calculated from feed intakes. During days 2-4, there were large differences among calves in the amount of milk consumed, which ranged from 7.3% BW/day (2.4 L/day) to 30.5% BW/day (12 L/day) with a median of 16.3% BW/day (6.7 L/day). Twenty-one calves were treated for illness from days 6 to 28. These calves had lower milk intakes on days 2, 3 and 4 than calves that remained healthy ( P

Date 2016
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 175
Pages 2-7
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.10.002
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Activity
  2. Calves
  3. Dairy animals
  4. Health
  5. Milk and dairy products
  6. Weight