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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Livestock Behavior Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #264953

Title: Effects of different flooring options in outside pens of hutches on dairy calf growth

item HOEING, K - Purdue University
item LAWS, M - Purdue University
item DENNIS, T - Purdue University
item SCHUTZ, M - Purdue University
item Eicher, Susan
item NENNICH, T - Purdue University

Submitted to: Joint Abstracts of the American Dairy Science and Society of Animal Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/15/2011
Publication Date: 7/11/2011
Citation: Hoeing, K.A., Laws, M.A., Dennis, T.S., Schutz, M.M., Eicher, S.D., Nennich, T.D. 2011. Effects of different flooring options in outside pens of hutches on dairy calf growth. Joint Abstracts of the American Dairy Science and Society of Animal Science. p.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Growth rates of dairy calves may vary due to many different factors, including housing. The objective of this study was to determine if calf growth was affected by different flooring options in the outside penned area of a calf hutch. For this study, 33 hutches were blocked in groups of 3 by location and the outside pen area was randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatments: soil and lime (CONTROL), solid black rubber mats (SOLID), and black rubber mats with 2.5 cm holes (HOLES). Thirty-three heifer calves in the study were assigned sequentially by birth date to the next available hutch. The study was conducted during the summer of 2010 at the Purdue Dairy Research and Education Center. Calves were fed according to standard protocols and received 2 L of milk replacer per day and ad libitum access to calf starter and water. Body weight, heart girth, hip height (HH), wither height (WH), and body temperature (TEMP) were measured when the calves entered the study and every 2 wk until weaning or 8 wk of age. Calves were observed 2 times/wk to determine behavior, calf cleanliness, flooring cleanliness, and hutch bedding cleanliness. Flooring temperature was determined using infrared temperature guns. Data were analyzed with Proc Mixed of SAS using repeated measures. Two calves, on treatments S and C, died and were removed from the study. At 8 wk of age, BW was greater (P < 0.05) for HOLES and CONTROL than for SOLID (72.5, 69.2, and 64.0 kg, respectively), and HH and WH were greater for HOLES (P < 0.05) than for CONTROL and SOLID. Heart girth and TEMP were similar among treatments (P > 0.20). Mat temperatures were similar for SOLID and HOLES (46.5 and 46.0°C, respectively) and were greater (P < 0.001) than CONTROL (37.7°C). Calf and bedding cleanliness were similar among treatments, though flooring tended (P < 0.10) to be dryer for HOLES at the beginning and dirtier in the middle of the study. Flooring options in the outside pen of calf hutches affected calf BW, HH, and WT at weaning, with rubber mats with holes improving calf growth compared to a lime and soil mixture or solid mats. These data demonstrate a method to improve calf growth during summer heat.