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22 July 2010

An advisory tool to improve management practices affecting calf and heifer welfare on dairy farms

We developed an advisory tool addressing 10 critical areas of calf and heifer management, including calving management, care to newborn calves and painful procedures, colostrum management, cow-calf separation, calf feeding, weaning, calf housing, heifer feeding, heifer housing, and general monitoring. Targets and indicators for each critical area were validated by a panel of experts and maximum scores were assigned based on experts’ opinions and reviews of scientific literature. The tool was tested on 28 Quebec dairy farms for feasibility and repeatability between 2 observers. Farmers were asked to test colostrum quality, measure blood IgG concentrations, and record health events. The on-farm evaluation included an interview on management practices and an evaluation of conditions in the barn. Scorings and recommendations were discussed with producers. The usefulness of our on-farm welfare tool was evaluated by the producers themselves during a final debriefing. We reached the main goals of a successful advisory tool of calf and heifer management to improve welfare on dairy farms. J. Dairy Sci. TBC:1–13
Author/Organization: Vasseur, E.; Rushen, J.; de Passillé, A.M.; Lefebvre, D. and Pellerin D.
Year: 2010
Topics: calves, dairy cattle, dairy production, feeding, housing, weaning, welfare on the farm