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N Z Vet J. 2005 Aug;53(4):246-8.

Sucking behaviour of hand-reared newborn dairy calves.

Author information

1
Animal Welfare and Bioethics Centre, Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11222, Palmerston North, New Zealand. k.j.stafford@massey.ac.nz

Abstract

AIM:

To determine the feeding ability of calves during the first 4 days after birth.

METHODS:

The sucking behaviour of 171 dairy calves, fed from individual bottles during the first 4 days after birth, was evaluated by quantifying the volume of colostrum consumed, the duration of feeding, and speed of drinking. Calves had been separated from their mothers and brought into a rearing shed in the morning, when < 24 h of age, and were offered 2 L colostrum from a bottle in the afternoon of the same day, and twice daily thereafter.

RESULTS:

Newborn calves became efficient suckers from bottles within 24 h of removal from their dams (collection). On the day after birth, 95% of calves drank the 2 L of colostrum offered during the afternoon feed, and by Day 4 virtually all calves (99%) drank this amount. Calves that had inadequate colostrum from their dam were more likely to drink all 2 L offered after collection, but a small number of calves that had not had colostrum from their dams and drank < 500 ml at the afternoon feed following collection were likely not to drink 2 L on the following days. However, calves that did not drink all 2 L on Day 1 were not disadvantaged in comparison to those that did, in that they were equally likely to drink 2 L on Day 4.

CONCLUSIONS:

The majority of calves became efficient drinkers within 48 hours of birth, but a small number of slow feeders may need individual feeding at least up to 4 days after birth.

PMID:
16044184
DOI:
10.1080/00480169.2005.36553
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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