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Effect of feeding strategy and social housing on behaviour at weaning in dairy calves

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Title: Effect of feeding strategy and social housing on behaviour at weaning in dairy calves
Author: Overvest, Morgan
Department: Department of Animal and Poultry Science
Program: Animal and Poultry Science
Advisor: DeVries, Trevor
Abstract: The objective of this dissertation was to determine the effect of an accelerated milk feeding program on time budget around weaning, with or without the influence of social housing, and the effect of various feed types and presentations on behaviour and growth of calves fed this high milk level. In the first study, calves were housed individually or in pairs until weaning, when all calves were paired. In a second study, calves were offered chopped grass hay and grain mixed, as separate components, grain only, or a silage-based total mixed ration (TMR). Calves housed in pairs consumed more feed than those housed individually. Individually-housed calves showed a decrease in lying time the day post-mixing and altered feeding behaviour in the post-weaning period. Prior to weaning, in the second study, all calves showed similar feed intake and weight gain, however, during the weaning and post-weaning phases, calves fed a silage-based TMR showed lower dry matter intake and weight gain than calves offered other feeds with higher dry matter content. In summary, calves altered time budgets to adjust for changes over the weaning period, more so when paired for the first time. Calves offered TMR could not consume enough feed on a dry matter basis, due to the high moisture content of their feed. Additionally, there were no noticeable effects of offering forage to calves on growth and overall feed intake throughout the pre-weaning and weaning period.
Date: 2015-07
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