Dairy Calf and Heifer (Holstein, Bos taurus) Management Practices in Western Canada: Current Status and Impacts on Animal Welfare
AdvisorPajor, Edmond Anthony
AuthorBorges Bond, Guilherme
Committee MemberBarkema, Herman W.
Doepel, Lorraine S.
Weary, Daniel M.
SubjectAnimal Culture and Nutrition
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractCalves are the future of the dairy enterprise but their management is often neglected. The objectives of this thesis were: 1) to describe young stock management practices in commercial dairy farms and the compliance of producers with Canadian guidelines and; 2) to analyse the effect of management practices on calf performance, health and welfare. Eighty-two farms were visited in Alberta and British Columbia (BC), Canada. Producers completed a survey about their pre-weaned calf management practices and their awareness and use of the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle (COP, n = 67 farms). Compliance with calf management practices in the COP was moderate and did not change whether producers were aware or not aware of the COP. Few producers changed practices as a result of the COP. The second objective was divided in two sections. The first section, comprised of 2 cross sectional studies, body weight (BW) was estimated for all pre-weaned calves (0 to 8 weeks) and heifers (12 to 15 months, BC farms only). Animals were observed for signs of nasal discharge or diarrhea and assessed for failure of passive transfer of immunity (FPT). Calves fed more than 5L of milk by bottle and introduced to water between 4 and 8 weeks of age had higher BW. Feeding less milk and offering colostrum replacer were associated with increased odds of disease and FPT. Higher heifer BW was associated with higher calf BW in the same farm. In the second section, a study on the effects of milk allowances on water drinking behaviour of dairy calves, animals were fed milk replacer either ad libitum or at 10% BW with free access to water and dry feed. Calves fed restrictively drank more water immediately after weaning. Provision of water was most important during weaning transition and drinking behaviour patterns were compatible with response to stress. The results presented in this thesis demonstrate that different practices chosen by producers can impact calf performance, health and welfare. Therefore, increased producer awareness and use of science-informed practices are needed through additional outreach efforts.
CitationBorges Bond, G. (2016). Dairy Calf and Heifer (Holstein, Bos taurus) Management Practices in Western Canada: Current Status and Impacts on Animal Welfare (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/25513
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