Investigating health abnormalities of calves arriving at a veal facility and their association with mortality, morbidity, and growth
This thesis is an investigation of health abnormalities within grain-fed veal calves as they are arriving at a rearing facility in Southern Ontario. A prospective cohort study was used to assess the health status of the calves at arrival to observe the associations of health abnormalities with morbidity, mortality, and average daily gain. Many calves entered the veal facility with a health abnormality and most of the morbidity occurred in the first three weeks following arrival. There were several associations with calf morbidity; low body mass index, increased rectal temperature, and season were all associated with increased calf morbidity. Body mass index was associated with morbidity within the first 21 days of arrival at the veal rearing facility. Rectal temperature and season of arrival were associated with overall calf morbidity throughout the growing period. There were many associations with mortality including fecal score and body mass index. A higher body mass index was associated with lower mortality. Calves were weighed at arrival and their weights were tracked throughout the growing period. Within the first 7 weeks at the facility body mass index was associated with higher average daily gain. In the last 4 weeks of the calves being under observation for 11 weeks, rectal temperature between 38.6-38.7°C was associated with higher average daily gain. Calves that arrived in the spring and autumn months were associated with a lower average daily gain. Throughout the entire 11 week growing period at this facility, higher body mass index on arrival and rectal temperature between 38.6-38.7°C were associated with higher average daily gain.