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Effects of twice a day teat bucket feeding compared to twice a day mother suckling on behaviour, health traits and blood immune parameters in dairy calves and immune parameters in cow's milk

Bieber, Anna; Walkenhorst, Michael; Eppenstein, Rennie; Probst, Johanna; Leiber, Florian; Thüer, Susann; Baki, Cem and Spengler Neff, Anet (2021) Effects of twice a day teat bucket feeding compared to twice a day mother suckling on behaviour, health traits and blood immune parameters in dairy calves and immune parameters in cow's milk. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, xx, x-xx. [Submitted]

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Summary

Early separation of cow and calf is still common practice in dairy production systems, but interest in calf rearing with cow contact has been constantly increasing in recent years. We investigated the hypothesis that calves suckling their mother twice a day during four months of life would benefit with regard to behaviour and health traits, when compared to teat bucket fed calves, even when fed at comparable milk amounts. Moreover, the effect of calf contact on content of immunoglobulin G (IgG) and lactoferrin in cow milk beyond the colostrum period was investigated. We conducted on farm trials on two organic farms from 2018-2021, where we randomly assigned the born calves by sex and parity status of the mother (primi- or multiparous) to either teat bucket feeding twice a day (BF, n= 30 cow-calf couples) or mother suckling (MS, n=28 cow-calf couples) twice a day after milking. MS calves performed less cross-sucking, but manipulation of objects did not differ by feeding group nor did avoidance distance of calves. Clinical findings regarding vitality, body condition traits, indicators for diarrhoea and respiratory disorders and number of medical treatments, did not differ between feeding groups, but differed considerably between farms.
Lactate level in whole blood of calves revealed contradictory results between farms (farm1: BF>MS, farm 2: BF≤MS). Mean total protein values in serum showed an interaction between feeding and parity status of the cow (primiparous: BF>MS, multiparous: BF≤MS). Glucose content (as indicator of energy level) and packed cell volume (as indicator for iron deficiency anaemia) were higher in MF compared to BF calves. By contrast, no difference between feeding groups was found with regard to IgG content in calf serum.
Consistent with the latter, IgG in cow milk did not differ between cows with or without calf contact and showed a clear decrease with time, while lactoferrin content in cow milk did not differ between rearing systems nor did it change with time.
We conclude that even restricted access to the mother is a means to reduce abnormal behavior, i.e. cross-sucking (but not manipulation of objects) and satisfies sucking needs of calves. By contrast, the effect of feeding regime on the health traits investigated was limited. Differences between farms underline the importance of management factors on calf health. Furthermore, we conclude that prolonged contact to the calf did not modulate the investigated content of antimicrobial compounds in milk.


EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:cow-calf contact, dam rearing, Abacus, FiBL50090, ProYoungStock
Agrovoc keywords:
Language
Value
URI
English
calf feeding
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_9bf4fb86
English
welfare
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_331043
English
behaviour
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_868
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Feeding and growth
Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Research affiliation: European Union > CORE Organic Cofund > ProYoungStock
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Animal > Animal welfare & housing > Animal husbandry
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Animal > Animal welfare & housing > Animal welfare
H2020 or FP7 Grant Agreement Number:727495
Related Links:https://www.proyoungstock.net/
Deposited By: Bieber, Anna
ID Code:42924
Deposited On:03 Jan 2022 10:10
Last Modified:03 Jan 2022 10:10
Document Language:English
Status:Submitted
Refereed:Submitted for peer-review but not yet accepted

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