Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2009
Publication Date: 3/15/2010
Citation: Gay, K.D., Eicher, S.D., Wilcox, C.S., Bridges, J.A., Rostagno, M.H., Charley, S.E., Schutz, M.M. 2010. Effect of Bedding Material on Performance, Health, and Hide Contamination of Calves Reared in Hutches. Journal of Dairy Science. 93(Midwest):19. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Dairy calf hutches are often bedded with straw (STR), but sand (SND) and wood shavings (SHV) are becoming more common. This study compared 3 different beddings for growth and health of calves and microbial presence on their hides. Hutches were blocked by location and each of 3 hutches in a block was randomly assigned 1 of 3 treatments; SND, STR, or SHV. Twenty-eight heifer calves in the study were assigned sequentially by birth date to the next available hutch. The study was conducted during a moderate summer (June to September, 2008) at the Purdue Dairy Research and Education Center. Calves were observed twice weekly from birth to weaning at approximately 8.5 wk. Weight (BW), hip height (HH), wither height (WH), and heart girth (HG) were measured weekly. Calves were scored for respiratory (RH) and fecal health (FH), and appearance (APP) twice weekly. At 4 and 8 wk of age, hide bacteria swabs were obtained from a 100 sq. cm area on the right mid-abdomen and used to determine total aerobic and coliform populations. Statistical models considered, block and treatment. Additionally, for measures after d 1 of age, covariates of age and birth BW were included. Block affected only WH rate of growth to 4 wk of age and to weaning (P < 0.05). Treatment affected weaning HH (P < 0.05). Least squares means (LSMEANS) of HH for SND (92.5 cm) and STR (93.8 cm) were greater than for SHV (90.5). However, over the entire period of time, wk (P < 0.001) affected all measures of growth, but treatment and its interaction with wk did not. Treatment differences were not detected for RH, FH, APP or total aerobic and coliform counts (P > 0.05) at 4 or 8 wk. It appears there are no clear advantages or disadvantages for SND, STR, or SHV as bedding materials with respect to calf growth, general health and hide contamination during moderate summer conditions in the Midwest.