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Cold housing and computer-controlled milk feeding for dairy calves: behaviour and performance

  • K. Bøe (a1) and Ø. Havrevoll (a2)

Abstract

In each of two experiments, 36 3 to 5-day-old dairy calves (male and female), were allotted to one of three groups: warm housing, milk feeding in teat-buckets twice a day (group 1); warm housing and computer-controlled milk feeding (group 2); and cold housing and computer-controlled milk feeding (group 3). The experiments were conducted from September until February. The daily gain in the first 4 weeks was lower for the calves in group 3 in both experiments and for calves in group 2 in experiment 2 because of lower food intake in this period. This was compensated for by an increased gain later. In spite of the different method of milk feeding, the activity rhythm was nearly equal among groups, but at week 6 and 10 the calves in group 1 spent more time with the head over the feeding table than the calves in the two other groups. The number of unrewarded visits per calf to the milk feeding station decreased from over 30 at week 4 to around 20 shortly before weaning. The frequency of sucking/licking pen-mates was almost negligible in all groups. In order to reduce the heat loss, the frequency of calves lying with body contact clearly increased by decreasing ambient temperature in cold housing.

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Keywords

Cold housing and computer-controlled milk feeding for dairy calves: behaviour and performance

  • K. Bøe (a1) and Ø. Havrevoll (a2)

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