This study assessed the impact of different calf rearing systems on calf health, behavior, meat quality, and oxidative stability. The study involved two groups of bull calves: conventionally penned calves (control, fed with use of automatic feeders) and calves reared alongside foster cows (experimental). The presence of foster cows was found to have a significant positive influence on calf health. Calves raised with foster cows experienced lower rates of diarrhea, delayed instances of coughing, and a reduced occurrence of rhinitis compared to conventionally reared calves. Behavioral observations revealed differences in sucking and licking behaviors between the two groups. Calves with foster cows displayed more consistent patterns of these behaviors, while conventionally reared calves exhibited greater variability. Additionally, the experimental group consistently achieved higher daily weight gains, suggesting the potential for larger and more valuable carcasses at slaughter. Importantly, there were no significant differences in the quality of veal between the two rearing groups. This included fatty acid composition, color attributes, and myoglobin levels, indicating consistent meat quality. In summary, this research highlights the advantages of rearing systems that prioritize calf health and behavior, emphasizing maternal care and natural behaviors. Such systems hold promise for improving calf welfare and enhancing the sustainability of the meat production industry. The integration of foster cows into dairy farming practices emerges as a practical and effective approach, particularly for the rearing of bull calves.

The Impact of Calf Rearing with Foster Cows on Calf Health, Welfare, and Veal Quality in Dairy Farms

Luisa Biondi
Resources
;
Massimiliano Lanza
Investigation
;
Antonio Natalello
Methodology
;
2023-01-01

Abstract

This study assessed the impact of different calf rearing systems on calf health, behavior, meat quality, and oxidative stability. The study involved two groups of bull calves: conventionally penned calves (control, fed with use of automatic feeders) and calves reared alongside foster cows (experimental). The presence of foster cows was found to have a significant positive influence on calf health. Calves raised with foster cows experienced lower rates of diarrhea, delayed instances of coughing, and a reduced occurrence of rhinitis compared to conventionally reared calves. Behavioral observations revealed differences in sucking and licking behaviors between the two groups. Calves with foster cows displayed more consistent patterns of these behaviors, while conventionally reared calves exhibited greater variability. Additionally, the experimental group consistently achieved higher daily weight gains, suggesting the potential for larger and more valuable carcasses at slaughter. Importantly, there were no significant differences in the quality of veal between the two rearing groups. This included fatty acid composition, color attributes, and myoglobin levels, indicating consistent meat quality. In summary, this research highlights the advantages of rearing systems that prioritize calf health and behavior, emphasizing maternal care and natural behaviors. Such systems hold promise for improving calf welfare and enhancing the sustainability of the meat production industry. The integration of foster cows into dairy farming practices emerges as a practical and effective approach, particularly for the rearing of bull calves.
2023
calves; health; behavior; veal; oxidative stress; fatty acids
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/573749
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