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Effect of water delivery manner on dairy calf performance

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

Citation:  10th International Livestock Environment Symposium (ILES X)  .(doi:10.13031/iles.18-040)
Authors:   Jan Broucek, Michael Uhrincat, Anton Hanus, Miloslav Soch, Peter Tongel, Lubos Zabransky
Keywords:   Calf, drinking water, growth, health, environment.

Abstract. The aim of this work was to evaluate effects of water receiving method on the growth, feed intake and health condition of calves kept in individual hutches in southern Slovakia. Sixty Holstein calves (30 females and 30 males) were reared in individual hutches from the second day of life to weaning at the age of 8 weeks. The same conditions of nutrition were ensured. Calves received colostrum and mothers milk ad libitum 3 times a day from a bucket with nipple from the second to fourth day. From the fifth day they received 6 kg of milk replacer per day divided into 2 portions in 12 h intervals. From the second day until weaning the calves were offered concentrate mixture and alfalfa hay ad libitum. The experiment lasted from April to November. All calves were divided according to the method of water delivery into 3 groups - nipple sucking from bucket (N), drinking from bucket (B), and without delivery water (WW). Blood samples for analysis of white and red blood compounds were taken every second week. The methods for the evaluation of health, diarrhea, and respiratory condition were used. We recorded 60 summer days and 15 tropical days. Sixty-six days with the value of temperature-humidity index above 72.0 were found during the period. The total number of days with values higher than 78.0 was 26 for the whole experimental period. No significant difference was found among groups in the average daily gains. Daily gains were the highest in group N (N 0.46±0.13 kg, B 0.43±0.12 kg, WW 0.43±0.10 kg, P≥0.05). The most intensive growth was recorded in males. The N group of calves drank more water to weaning than the B group (69.39±66.91 kg vs 50.72±51.95 kg, p ≥0.05), and group N had the highest intake of starter mixture (N 14.43±8.82 kg, B 11.30±5.45 kg, WW 13.31±6.86 kg, P≥0.05). The highest alfalfa hay consumption during the milk-drinking period was found in group WW (N 21.34±6.91 kg, B 22.26±7.52 kg, WW 23.59±8.76 kg, P≥0.05). No calves died or were culled for poor health. There were no water delivery effects for measurements of blood cells. However, we cannot recommend the water intake just as part of the milk replacer on the basis of this experiment. Drinking water has to be always at the disposal.

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