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Waldau, Ellika, 2017. Pair-housing of dairy calves in outdoor calf hutches : impact on growth and play behaviour. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Animal Environment and Health

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to test the effects on dairy calves (Bos taurus) in outdoor calf hutches of individual vs. pair-housing on behaviour, growth and health. In total 33 female dairy calves of the breeds Swedish Holstein (SH) and Swedish Red (SR) cattle were used in the study. Twenty calves were pair-housed and 13 calves were individually housed. All calves had ad lib. access to water, concentrate, hay and silage and were fed three litres of whole milk twice per day with buckets equipped with a rubber teat. An extra teat bucket was always available in the calf hutch. Calves were weighed at birth and then once a week. Health protocols were filled in by the farm staff every day and collected monthly. At six, seven and eight weeks of age, calves were observed in a test arena (3.7 x 6.4 m) with a large rubber ball, five pieces of rope tied to the gates and an alien calf. Social play, locomotor play, object play, vocalisation, walk, standing together and defecate were recorded using one-zero sampling at one minute intervals for 20 minutes per session. The study began in wintertime 2017 (January 27th) and ended in early summer the same year (June 2nd).
Data from the behaviour observations was analysed in SAS using a generalised linear model that tested for the effect of housing treatment, age at testing, observation period (first 10 vs. last 10 minutes in test arena) and their interactions. Diarrhoea was tested with a Chi2 -test and the relative risk to be diagnosed with diarrhoea was calculated with a Cohort. Weight gain was analysed with a t-test with the Cohran method.
The behaviour observations in the test arena showed that pair-housed calves performed more social play (p<0.05) and stood more together (p<0.001) than did individually housed calves. The expression of social play increased with age (p<0.01) and occurred the most during the second observation period (min 11-20) (p<0.0001). There was no significant effect of treatment or age on locomotor play (n.s.). However, the calves performed more locomotor play during the first observation period (min 1-10) (p<0.0001). There were no significant effects on object play of treatment or period, but the calves performed more object play when six weeks old than when seven weeks (p<0.05) or eight weeks (p<0.01) old. The amount of vocalisation also decreased with age (p<0.0001), but did not differ between treatments. No significant effects were found of treatment, period or age on the number of recordings of walk. Pair-housed calves had an average daily weight gain of 0.88 kg/d and individually housed calves had average daily weight gain of 0.81 kg, but there was no significant difference in weight gain between treatments. Twelve pair-housed and five single-housed calves got diarrhoea and one pair-housed calf got an airway infection, but there were no significant differences in occurrence of diarrhoea between pair-housed and individually housed calves.
In conclusion, pair-housed calves had more social behaviours in an arena test than individually housed calves. However, pair-housing as compared to individual housing of dairy calves did not significantly affect weight gain, health, locomotor play, object play or vocalisation. Further research may be needed to evaluate the effects of pair-housing on calf welfare.

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Syftet med denna studie var att testa effekten av par- vs. individuell hållning på beteenden, tillväxt och hälsa på kalvar (Bos taurus) i kalvhyddor utomhus. Totalt 33 kvigkalvar av raserna svensk Holstein (SH) och svensk röd (SR) användes i försöket. Tjugo kalvar hölls i par och 13 hölls enskilt. Alla kalvar hade fri tillgång till vatten, kraftfoder, hö och silage och fick två mål om tre liter mjölk vardera om dagen i napphink med gummispene. En tom napphink med gummispene fanns alltid tillgänglig i kalvhyddorna. Kalvarna vägdes vid födseln och därefter en gång i veckan. Hälsoformulär fylldes i dagligen av stallpersonalen och samlades in månadsvis. Vid sex, sju och åtta veckors ålder observerades kalvarna med en främmande kalv i en arena (3.7 x 6.4 m) med en stor gummiboll och fem snören fastknutna i metallgrindar. Social lek, rörelselek, objektlek, vokalisering, stå tillsammans och gödsla observerades med ett-noll registrering under sessioner om 20 minuter. Studien påbörjades vintern 2017 (27 januari) och avslutades försommaren samma år (2 juni).
Insamlade data från beteendeobservationerna analyserades i SAS med en generaliserad linjär modell som testade för effekten av inhysning, testvecka, observationsperiod och deras interaktioner. Förekomst av diarré testades med ett Chi2-test och den relativa risken att diagnosticeras med diarré beräknades med ett Cohort. Viktökning analyserades med ett t-test med Cohran-metoden.
Beteendeobservationerna visade att parhållna kalvar utförde mer social lek (p<0.05) och stod mer tillsammans (p<0.001) än vad enskilt hållna kalvar gjorde. Social lek ökade med ålder (p<0.01) och uttrycktes mest under den andra observationsperioden (min 11-20) (p<0.0001). Ingen signifikant effekt hittades av behandling eller av ålder på rörelselek (n.s.), men kalvarna utförde mest rörelselek under den första observationsperioden (min 1-10) (p<0.0001). Ingen signifikant effekt hittades av behandling eller observationsperiod på objektlek, men kalvarna utförde mer objektlek när de var sex veckor gamla än sju veckor (p<0.05) och åtta veckor (p<0.01). Även vokalisering minskade med ökande ålder (p<0.0001). Ingen signifikant effekt hittades av behandling, ålder eller observationsperiod på beteendet gå. Parhållna kalvar hade en genomsnittlig daglig tillväxt på 0.88 kg medan enskilt hållna kalvar ökade i snitt 0.81 kg/dag, men ingen signifikant skillnad fanns mellan behandlingarna gällande daglig tillväxt. Det fanns heller inte någon signifikant skillnad i hälsa mellan behandlingarna.
Slutsatsen är att parhållning av kalvar inte hade någon signifikant effekt på tillväxt, hälsa, rörelselek, objektlek eller vokalisering. Däremot utförde parhållna kalvar fler sociala beteenden under arenatest än enskilt hållna kalvar. Mer forskning kan behövas inom områdena för kalvhållning och kalvars välfärd.

Main title:Pair-housing of dairy calves in outdoor calf hutches
Subtitle:impact on growth and play behaviour
Authors:Waldau, Ellika
Supervisor:Lidfors, Lena
Examiner:Johansson, Birgitta
Series:Studentarbete / Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Institutionen för husdjurens miljö och hälsa
Volume/Sequential designation:725
Year of Publication:2017
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:VM003 Animal Science - Master's Programme 120 HEC
Supervising department:(VH) > Dept. of Animal Environment and Health
Keywords:calves, pair-housing, play, behaviour, growth, health
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-s-9213
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-s-9213
Subjects:Animal structure
Language:English
Deposited On:29 Jan 2018 09:02
Metadata Last Modified:25 Feb 2019 13:38

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