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Pre- and post-weaning performance of calves housed individually or in pairs.

D. Ziegler

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06-23-2020

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Abstract:

T4
Pre- and post-weaning performance of calves housed individually or in pairs.
D. Ziegler*1, H. Chester-Jones1, B. Ziegler2, A. Manthey2, E. Dufour2. 1University of Minnesota Waseca, MN, 2Hubbard Feeds Mankato, MN.

The objective of this study was to determine the effect of paired versus individual housing on growth and performance of calves pre- and post-weaning. One hundred (2 to 5 d old) Holstein heifer calves (39.8 � 0.56 kg) from 2 commercial dairies were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 housing treatments, either individually housed or housed in pairs (d 1 to 56) followed by group housing in pens of 6 calves/pen by treatment (d 57 to 112). The study was conducted between June and October, 2019. All calves were fed a non-medicated 24% CP: 20% fat milk replacer (MR; all-milk protein) fed at 0.28 kg in 2 L of water 2x daily from d 1 to 7, 0.43 kg in 2.98 L of water 2� daily from d 8 to 35 and 0.43 kg in 2.98 L 1x daily from d 36 to weaning at d 49. All calves were offered a medicated (Decoquinate at 45.4 g/ton) texturized calf starter (CS; 18% CP as fed) and water free choice from d 1 to d 56. Milk replacer was fed using nipples via a milk bar. Housing treatments were as follows: 1) Housed in an individual pen 2.29 X 1.17 m with solid panel dividers (IH) and 2) Pair housed in an individual pen 2.29 � 2.34 m with solid panel dividers (PH). Calves were blocked to treatments by weight in a randomized complete block design. Calves housed in pairs were analyzed as an average of 2 calves. Data were analyzed using the PROC mixed procedure of SAS and repeated measures analyses applied where appropriate. There was an increase in ADG (d 1 to 56) for PH calves compared with IH calves (P < 0.05), averaging 0.74 and 0.67 kg/d, respectively. Total CS intake (d 1 to 56) was higher (P < 0.05) for PH calves compared with IH calves averaging 35.4 and 29.3 kg, respectively. Intake of MR (d 1 to 49) was higher for PH calves compared with IH (P < 0.05) averaging 31.9 and 31.6 kg, respectively. There was an increase in ADG (d 57 to 112) for IH calves compared with PH calves (P < 0.05), averaging 1.04 and 0.97 kg/d, respectively when group housed. Under conditions of this study PH calves had increased gain and starter intake compared with IH calves (d 1 to 56) although this performance advantage was not maintained d 57 to 112 with both treatments averaging 135.2 kg on d 112.

Keywords: calf performance, paired housing, calf starter.