Pilot study on the effect of paired calf housing on performance and welfare
|Cathegory||Publication in specialized journals|
The aim of the pilot study was to evaluate the effect of a paired housing system on the daily activity of dairy calves, their performance, health and welfare. We analysed the 24-hour cycles of the basic daily activities of 20 calves housed in two different housing systems (individually and in pair) on one farm during the milk nutrition period. The observed qualitative parameters (behaviour, health) were evaluated by nonparametric tests, quantitative parameters (live weight, average daily gain, starter consumption) using the F-test and the paired t-test in the Statistica 9 software package. Based on the results of selected signs of behaviour, it stands to reason that calves housed in pair were more active (by 2.5 %) compared to individually housed, which in contrast spent more time lying down (by 5.5%). Regarding the occurrence of negative signs of behaviours, calves housed in pair were found to have higher sucking rates of other calf (by 0.7 %), while in individually housed calves were the higher frequency of licking of surfaces of the hutches, runs and buckets (by 0.2 %). There was no statistically significant difference in body weight, average daily gain, starter consumption or disease incidence between the two various housing systems. In conclusion, it is possible to state that the pair housed calves reached a higher level of welfare due to the possibility of a wider range of natural behaviours.
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