Impact of feeding and housing strategy on calf performance and behavior

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Exhibit Hall AB (Kansas City Convention Center)
Stephanie H Ward , Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS
Karley Parker , Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS
Kelsey Hart , Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS
Abstract Text:

Forty-eight Holstein calves were fed either two or three times per day and housed either individually or in pairs (2XI, 2XP, 3XI and 3XP). Calves were randomly assigned to treatments at birth and remained on their treatment until 8 weeks of age. At 8 wks of age, calves were moved to a grouped pen and body measures were taken until 10 wks of age. For calves that were on 2XP or 3XP, pairing occurred on d 3 ± 2 d. All calves were fed 3.8L of colostrum within 24h of birth and then fed whole milk. Calf starter (Startena, Purina Mills, 22%CP) was offered from d 3 and increased by 0.45 kg when less than 0.45 kg were left. DMI and respiration and fecal scores were collected daily. Body weight (BW), hip and wither height, heart girth, and hip width were collected weekly. Play behavior, time spent lying, standing, eating and drinking were also measured at weeks 3, 5, and 7. At week 8, latency to feed was observed when calves were released into groups. Data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure of SAS® (Cary, NC). Separation of means were evaluated with the PDIFF procedure of SAS based on Fisher’s F-protected least significant difference test. Significance was declared at P < 0.05. There was no effect of treatment on BW or measures or ADG. However, in weeks 6, 9, and 10 calves on 3XP had greater ADG than calves on 2XP (1.15, 1.49, 1.38 vs. 0.72, 0.84, 0.47 kg/d, respectively; P< 0.05) and 3XI (1.15, 1.49, 1.38 vs 0.87, 0.79, 1.19 kg/d, respectively; P < 0.05). In weeks 6 and 10, 3XP calves had greater ADG than 2XI calves (1.15kg, 1.38kg vs .89kg, 1.06kg respectively). There was no effect of feeding frequency on starter intake, however, calves housed in pairs tended to consume more starter than those housed individually (0.79 kg DM/d vs. 0.84 kg DM/d; P < 0.07). Analysis of behavior data indicates no impact of housing type on latency to feed, however, calves fed 3X per day consumed feed within 23.5 minutes and calves fed 2X per day consumed feed within 37.5 minutes. Currently, this data demonstrates that, while nutrient values were not different between treatments, both feeding frequency and housing type can impact calf growth and tended to impact intake and latency to feed.

Keywords: dairy calves, housing, feeding behavior