Housing system may affect behavior and performance of Jersey heifer calves
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Other Titles:Alternative housing of Jersey heifer calves
Series/Report no.:2014 Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum. 28th
There is increasing social pressure to adopt alternative housing and management practices that allow farm animals more opportunity to exercise and demonstrate social behavior. The present study investigated the effect of paired housing on the behavior and performance of Jersey heifer calves. Forty female Jersey calves were allocated to individual or pair housing at birth and monitored for 9 wk. Calves were provided with a single hutch, and those allocated to the paired housing treatment were provided a pen enclosure twice the size of individually housed calves and only one hutch was provided per pair. All calves were fed milk replacer via bucket twice per day (1.9 L/feeding first 7 d; 2.27 L/feeding until weaned) and had ad libitum access to calf starter and water. Gradual weaning commenced on day 49 by reducing the calves’ milk allowance to one feeding per day and weaning occurred on day 56. Grain consumption was monitored daily and calves were weighed weekly. Direct behavioral observations were conducted twice per week. Calves housed in pairs tended to have greater average daily gain (ADG) compared with calves housed individually (0.63 ± 0.02 versus 0.59 ± 0.02 kg/d; respectively). Pair housing also increased final body weight (BW) compared with individual housing (64.9 ± 0.76 versus 61.7 ± 0.81 kg, respectively). During observation periods, calves housed individually spent more time engaging in nonnutritive sucking than calves housed in pairs (21.5 versus 8.15%). Calves housed in pairs were observed cross-sucking 13.2% of the time during observational periods. In conclusion, although housing Jersey calves in pairs may increase measures of performance, future research should aim to reduce cross-sucking behavior within the Jersey breed through alternative feeding systems or environmental enrichment.
Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (FAES): 2nd Place (The Ohio State University Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum)