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ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #46486


item Macaulay A S
item Hahn G L
item Clark D H
item Sisson D V

Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/14/1994
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Calf death losses have been reported to range from 7 to more than 20%. Under good management conditions, neonatal calf mortality (calves born alive that die between 24 h and 28 d) should be approximately 3%. A calf death involves the loss of its production potential and the reproductive period of the dam. Housing type may not affect growth or survival rates, even though individual calf housing has been popular for more than 20 years. Such housing provides environmental protection, helps prevent spread of disease, and facilitates the detection and treatment of sick calves. Body temperature allows researchers to measure stress in cattle, thus improving the characterization of stress. The objectives of this study were to compare the effects of three individual calf housing types on growth, physiology and behavior, and to determine tympanic temperature rhythms in neonatal Holstein calves. There were slight differences in feed intake and growth in different housing types but no differences in blood physiology and behavior. The outdoor pens of the wooden and Calftel hutches facilitated observations let calves go outside, thereby keeping hutches cleaner, and provided space for exercise. Predetermination of the circadian temperature rhythms of young calves will mean that temperature rhythms can be a very reliable indicator of physiological stress.

Technical Abstract: Thirty Holstein calves were assigned to one of three housing types from birth to weaning. Housing types included conventional 1.2 m x 2.4 m x 1.2 m high wooden hutches (Hutch), enclosed 2.2 m diameter molded polyethylene domes 1.5 m high (Poly Dome), and thermomolded opaque polymer hutches (1.4 m x 2.2 m x 1.3 m high) with ridge top ventilation systems (Calftel). Both the Hutch and Calftel had outdoor pens (1.2 m x 1.8 m). Five calves in each housing type were fitted with portable dataloggers to record tympanic temperature at 5 min intervals. Data collected included ambient temperatures (calf microclimate - 5 min intervals), weekly girth, body weight, and feed intake, physiological blood parameters within 24 h of birth and at weaning (8 wks), and behavioral observations (dawn to dusk) at 1, 4, and 7 weeks of age. Poly Dome housing had the warmest microclimate followed by Hutches and Calftel. Feed intake, growth measurements, blood physiology, and behavior were not affected by housing type. Mean body weight for the 8 wk period was greatest (P<.05) for Poly Dome (54.46 kg) followed by Hutch (52.18 kg) and Calftel calves (49.03 kg). Diurnal tympanic temperature rhythms of neonatal dairy calves was monophasic with maxima at 1200 to 1700 h and minima at 0600 to 0900 h. Computed fractal dimensions showed a gradation of stress from moderate and marked at weeks 1 and 2 to minor stress at 8 weeks of age.