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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Livestock Behavior Research » Research » Research Project #439690

Research Project: Identifying Phenotypic and Genotypic Indicators of Dairy Cattle Resilience in Automated Farming Systems

Location: Livestock Behavior Research

Project Number: 5020-32000-014-067-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: May 17, 2021
End Date: Aug 6, 2024

The study objective is to identify factors related to better health, welfare and/or behavioral outcomes for calves in automated farming systems.

This work will focus on measuring and identifying factors of growth, health, and welfare during the period in which calves are managed on automated feeders. The following parameters will be determined: • Physiological measures – salivary and hair cortisol as a measure of stress and stress load, blood samples for analysis of immune transfer and markers of inflammation (haptoglobin), and growth parameters (weight, hip-height, hip-width); • Behavioral measures – consummatory behavior such as drinking volume, drinking speed, and visits (number, frequency) to the automated feeding system, and activity monitoring via sensor attachment. • Health measures – Regular scoring of health status, treatment rate, and mortality. • Genetic measures – identification of genome sequences related to the above phenotypic/physiological/behavioral factors.) These factors will be used to determine calf welfare outcomes. Observations will incorporate the time from placement into the automated feeding system until weaning.