Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Transportation of Cattle in the Dairy Industry: Present Knowledge and Future Questions

Author
item Eicher, Susan

Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: September 5, 2000
Publication Date: September 5, 2000
Citation: EICHER, S.D. TRANSPORTATION OF CATTLE IN THE DAIRY INDUSTRY: PRESENT KNOWLEDGE AND FUTURE QUESTIONS. JOURNAL OF DAIRY SCIENCE. 2000. V. 83 (SUPPL.E): P. E19-E23.

Technical Abstract: Traditionally a heifer lived on one farm from birth to death. However, now transportation is becoming a routine management practice; heifers are moved off the dairy within the first week of life to separate rearing facilities and then returned to the dairy prior to calving. Transportation is comprised of loading/unloading, mixing, and confinement on a stationary or moving vehicle. The handling and transport needs of adult and neonatal dairy cattle are different in many respects. Mobility (ability to herd) and the ability to navigate ramps vary with age. The amount of time spent lying during transport is different between adults and neonates. Environmental factors affect them differently also. Neonates are more susceptible to cold, but adults are stressed by heat more readily. Although young calves exhibit less stress with transport, post-secondary morbidity and mortality decrease with increased age at transport. Calves were shown to habituate to transport, but cows did not. Characteristics of stressed cattle during and following transport include increased heart rate and cortisol concentrations, enzymatic changes, impaired LH surge, and immunological effects. These data point to the need for research of better methods of loading neonatal calves and boosting innate immunity following transport. Physical aspects of the transport vehicle such as tire pressure and bedding may be important for movement of calves, because they spend more time lying. The effect of transport and mixing on first-calf heifers is a necessary research topic because replacement heifers are frequently moved. Studies of behavior and strategies to accommodate normal behaviors of both cows and calves may facilitate improved design and management.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page