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How does early social contact affect the welfare of dairy cows?

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In addition to food, water, shelter and medical needs, social contact is as important an aspect of animal welfare as humans. However, early socialization of dairy cows can be a low priority for physical health and to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as diarrhea and scouring, which are the main causes of calf death. Cows are raised individually.In the new research that appears in Journal of Dairy ScienceScientists at the University of Florida’s Faculty of Animal Husbandry have investigated whether this individually contained tactic is justified and what unintended consequences it may have.


Given various practical considerations, dairy products calf‘Introduction age Social housing It depends on the farm. Different ages of initial socialization can affect behavioral development and subsequent response to social groups. In this study, Holstein calves were raised individually or in pairs for the first two weeks of life, then initially in groups of four, reflecting the dynamic conditions of the feeding system on many farms. Was moved to a group of 8 cows.Throughout the study, researchers monitored the ability of calves to learn to feed independently of the teat bucket. early life, Then from the auto feeder. Calf health, feed intake, weight gain, activity, and social interactions were recorded with surprising results.

“We have a calf Social contact More engaged and increased in new pen resources in the first few weeks Social interactionCompared to previously individually raised calves, there was more time to lie down during social grouping. ” The most important difference is the consistently longer social rest time between the first paired calves, suggesting greater overall comfort with the penmates, even at the time of initial introduction. bottom.

Miller-Cushon added that the results showed that “other effects on behavior were minimal and had no negative impact on performance.” There was even a tendency for fewer days of diarrhea among calves raised in pairs after birth. Therefore, the authors write that “calf health concerns are often cited as a reason for raising calves individually, at least for a short period of time after birth, but paired calves tend to have less scouring. And social housing does not adversely affect the health of young calves and may also benefit. ”


The right place for solid feed can improve the nutrition and growth of pre-weaning cows


For more information:
EE Lindner et al, Impact of early social contact on dairy cow response to early social grouping and regrouping, Journal of Dairy Science (2021). DOI: 10.3168 / jds.2021-20435

Quote: How does early social contact affect the welfare of dairy cows? (August 24, 2021) Obtained August 24, 2021 from https: //phys.org/news/2021-08-effect-early-social-contact-dairy.html

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How does early social contact affect the welfare of dairy cows?

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