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J Dairy Sci. 1992 Jan;75(1):262-8.

The importance of udder and teat conformation for teat seeking by the newborn calf.

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1
Department of Farm Buildings, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Lund.

Abstract

Because antibody levels in colostrum and the efficiency of the intestinal absorption of these antibodies decrease with time after birth, late sucking inadequate passive immunity. The influence of the conformation and the size of the udder and teats of the dam on the teat-seeking behavior of newborn calves with respect to the time they first suckle was studied in 42 cow-calf pairs housed in individual calving pens. A smaller distance from udder to floor (e.g., low slung udders) led to increase in the time spent teat seeking; it also had a significant effect of the time of the first suckle. The variation in the distance from udder to floor accounted for 24 and 15% of the variations in rank order of the calves with respect to duration of active teat seeking before first suckling and to the time to first suckle, respectively. The results of this study showed that calves born to cows or heifers with low slung udders cannot be expected to obtain colostrum soon enough by natural suckling. They should either be helped to suckle or be hand fed to ensure that they receive a good and adequate passive immunity.

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