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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Tail-Docking Alters Behavior But Not Acute Phase Proteins of Young Dairy Calves

Authors
item Eicher, Susan
item Morrow, Julie

Submitted to: American Dairy Science Association Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 15, 1999
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Previously we have shown that the banding process of docking minimally affects mature cow's behavior and physiology, but cutting off the necrotic tail increased haptoglobin and the docked cows had more flies on rear legs and exhibited more fly avoidance behaviors. Because many producers dock young calves while they are in hutches where fly problems are more pronounced, we investigated changes in behavior and physiology of young calves following docking by banding. Twenty calves (3-5 wk of age) were assigned to a docked or control group. After applying a band to dock the tail, calves were tested every 15 min for sensitivity to heat below the band. Calf behavior was recorded for 24 h pre- and post-banding. After 3 wk, tails were removed and then one week later, fly counts and fly avoidance behaviors were observed. Tails were sensitive to heat for 60-120 min post-banding (mean 87 min). Banded calves were more active than control calves during the 2 h following banding. Percent of time spent lying was greater for control calves (6 vs 31, P<.005) and percent of time spent walking was greater for docked than control calves (20 vs 7, P<.005). More importantly, movements of the head to touch the tail were increased for banded calves (1 vs 8 movements per observation, P<.01). Rear leg fly counts were greater on banded calves in the afternoon (P=.06), but no differences in fly avoidance behaviors were evident at noon or in the afternoon. Only ear twitches were greater for the docked calves in the morning. The two acute phase proteins measured, haptoglobin and alpha-1-acid glycoprotein, were not different. This research shows that young calves' behavior was changed following tail banding and docked calves have increased fly numbers on rear legs.

Last Modified: 12/21/2014
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