Bovine respiratory disease changes feeding behaviours in pre-weaned artificially reared calves

BB Riley*, C-A Duthie, Alex Corbishley, CS Mason, DJ Bell, J M Bowen, MJ Haskell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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An understanding of how disease affects behaviour is essential for the development of behaviour-based disease detection tools. Earlier detection improves outcomes and reduces antimicrobial use.

Respiratory disease is common in pre-weaned artificially reared calves and represents significant economic loss. Calf behaviour has been shown to change early in the disease process and thus has potential as an early disease detection tool. The objective of this study was to determine differences in behaviour between healthy calves and those with bovine respiratory disease.

Materials and methods
114 calves were observed from entrance into a straw-bedded group pen at approximately eight days of age until 39 days of age. Calves were fed a restricted daily milk allowance of seven litres of milk replacer (150 g/Litre) through an automatic milk feeder. Calves had ad-libitum access to calf starter and straw in racks. Calves were Wisconsin health scored daily and behaviours were continually monitored using a tri-axial accelerometer and the automatic milk feeder. For statistical analysis, diseased calves with a peak Wisconsin score ≥5 were paired with a healthy calf in the same group, of the same sex, within seven days of age and within ten kilograms of live weight. Healthy calves had no treatment events, a rectal temperature of
Generalized linear mixed modelling was used to assess the effect of disease and day versus peak disease with group included as a random effect. Estimated marginal means with pairwise comparisons were used.

Mean milk visit length was greater in diseased calves compared to healthy calves on day 0 and day 3 relative to the day of peak disease (p 
In limit fed calves, both the mean time per visit to the milk feeder and the total time at milk are increased. The changes in behaviour seen with disease is different in limit fed calves to those seen previously in ad-libitum fed calves. This has implications for development of automated tools for disease detection.

Funding provided by Innovate-UK, EASTBIO DTP and AHDB.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnimal -Science Proceedings
Number of pages2
ISBN (Electronic)2772-283X
Publication statusPrint publication - Apr 2023


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