Learning behaviour and observed feeding patterns of dairy calves group-housed and fed using an automatic milk feeder

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Wilson, Tanya
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University of Guelph

This thesis is an investigation of the characteristics and behaviour of calves living in a group environment and trained to drink from an automatic milk feeder (AMF). Calves (n=147) were trained on either a solid or gated stall design associated with the AMF and behaviour was observed by video and feeder data collected for 72 h after introduction. Stall design alone did not impact how quickly calves adapted to the feeder, but when calves were stratified based on how easily they were first trained on the feeder, calves trained on the solid design explored the stall and drank 2 times sooner than calves on the gated design. Once calves learned to use the AMF, they exhibited a diurnal feeding pattern at the group level which declined during dark hours and peaked when there was human activity in the room.

calves, feeding pattern, behaviour, automatic milk feeder, learning