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Effect of the Season at the Birth on the Performance and Health of Calves

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Sixth International Dairy Housing Conference Proceeding, 16-18 June 2007, (Minneapolis, Minnesota) (Electronic Only)  701P0507e.(doi:10.13031/2013.22807)
Authors:   Jan J. J Broucek, Stefan Mihina, Peter Kisac, Michael Uhrincat, Anton Hanus, Miloslav Soch, Jan Travnicek
Keywords:   Dairy calf, temperatures, growth, health, housing, cooling

Heat stress negatively affected production by hutch calves. Summertime heat adversely affects productivity by the decreased feed intake and daily gain. The objective of this paper was evaluate effects of high temperatures on the growth, feed consumption and health condition of calves kept in individual hutches in southern Slovakia (East Central Europe). We tested a hypothesis that the calf performance would be influenced by the season at birth, sire lineage and gender. Sixty-three Holstein calves were used. They were reared in individual hutches from the second day of life to weaning at the age of 8 weeks and then in group pens. The calves originated from 5 sires. All calves were divided according to the season at birth. The same conditions of nutrition were ensured. Feed and water refusals were removed and weighed back each morning. Air temperature and relative humidity were accurately recorded during the entire 24 hour periods. Fluidity, color, consistency, odor of feces and health condition was evaluated two times daily. The data were analyzed using a GLM ANOVA. We recorded 52 summer days and 14 tropical days for this summer period. Eighteen days with the THI value above 72.0 were found in the June, in the months July and August we found 22 and 26 these days. The total number of days with the THI values higher than 78.0 was twenty-six for summer period. The calves born during the summer had the lowest live body weight from the first week to the 90th day of age. The highest growth was recorded in calves born in the fall. A significant difference was detected also for the period from birth to weaning (P<0.01). The tendency of lower growth of calves born in summer was confirmed in the period to the 180th day of life. Calves born in the spring drank up 36.4 kg of water to the weaning, calves born in the summer drank up 73.6 kg, and calves born in the fall drank up 54.2 kg of water. However, we did not obtain sufficient evidence of effects exerted by the sire lineage and gender. No significant differences were found in parameters of health and feces.

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