The impact of dystocia on dairy calf health, welfare, performance and survival

AC Barrier, MJ Haskell, S Birch, A Bagnall, DJ Bell, JW Dickinson, AI MacRae, CM Dwyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Up to one-third of dairy calves are born after dystocia and this is a major cause of calf mortality. This study investigated the neonatal physiology, survival, health and subsequent growth of dairy calves following dystocia and is the first longitudinal study to analyse multiple effects and to look beyond the perinatal period. A total of 455 live born Holstein calves (N: No assistance, n = 360; FN: Farmer assistance but normally presented calf, n = 82; FM: Farmer assistance of malpresented calf, n = 13) were followed from birth to first service (heifers) or until leaving the farm (bulls). Compared to N calves, FN and FM animals had higher salivary cortisol concentrations at day 1 (P < 0.001) and FN calves had lower passive immune transfer (P = 0.03). Dystocia had no biologically significant impact on rectal temperature throughout the first 4 days (P > 0.05). During the first 60 days, FM calves had a higher proportion of days with non-routine health treatments (P < 0.05) and, by the time of weaning, mortality in FN and FM heifers was higher than in N calves (2.8 ; P < 0.01). However, in surviving calves, growth to first service was not affected by dystocia category (P > 0.05). Calves which survive dystocia experience lower passive immunity transfer, higher mortality and higher indicators of physiological stress. Such calves have poorer welfare in the neonatal period and possibly beyond. Strategies need to be implemented to improve the subsequent health and welfare of such calves and to lower the incidence of dystocia. 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86 - 90
Number of pages5
JournalVeterinary Journal
Volume195
Publication statusFirst published - 2012

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dairy calves
dystocia
calves
farmers
passive immunity
longitudinal studies
cortisol
heifers
bulls
weaning
Holstein
physiology

Keywords

  • Calving ease
  • Dairy calf
  • Mortality
  • Parturition
  • Welfare

Cite this

Barrier, AC., Haskell, MJ., Birch, S., Bagnall, A., Bell, DJ., Dickinson, JW., ... Dwyer, CM. (2012). The impact of dystocia on dairy calf health, welfare, performance and survival. Veterinary Journal, 195, 86 - 90.
Barrier, AC ; Haskell, MJ ; Birch, S ; Bagnall, A ; Bell, DJ ; Dickinson, JW ; MacRae, AI ; Dwyer, CM. / The impact of dystocia on dairy calf health, welfare, performance and survival. In: Veterinary Journal. 2012 ; Vol. 195. pp. 86 - 90.
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Barrier, AC, Haskell, MJ, Birch, S, Bagnall, A, Bell, DJ, Dickinson, JW, MacRae, AI & Dwyer, CM 2012, 'The impact of dystocia on dairy calf health, welfare, performance and survival', Veterinary Journal, vol. 195, pp. 86 - 90.

The impact of dystocia on dairy calf health, welfare, performance and survival. / Barrier, AC; Haskell, MJ; Birch, S; Bagnall, A; Bell, DJ; Dickinson, JW; MacRae, AI; Dwyer, CM.

In: Veterinary Journal, Vol. 195, 2012, p. 86 - 90.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - The impact of dystocia on dairy calf health, welfare, performance and survival

AU - Barrier, AC

AU - Haskell, MJ

AU - Birch, S

AU - Bagnall, A

AU - Bell, DJ

AU - Dickinson, JW

AU - MacRae, AI

AU - Dwyer, CM

PY - 2012

Y1 - 2012

N2 - Up to one-third of dairy calves are born after dystocia and this is a major cause of calf mortality. This study investigated the neonatal physiology, survival, health and subsequent growth of dairy calves following dystocia and is the first longitudinal study to analyse multiple effects and to look beyond the perinatal period. A total of 455 live born Holstein calves (N: No assistance, n = 360; FN: Farmer assistance but normally presented calf, n = 82; FM: Farmer assistance of malpresented calf, n = 13) were followed from birth to first service (heifers) or until leaving the farm (bulls). Compared to N calves, FN and FM animals had higher salivary cortisol concentrations at day 1 (P < 0.001) and FN calves had lower passive immune transfer (P = 0.03). Dystocia had no biologically significant impact on rectal temperature throughout the first 4 days (P > 0.05). During the first 60 days, FM calves had a higher proportion of days with non-routine health treatments (P < 0.05) and, by the time of weaning, mortality in FN and FM heifers was higher than in N calves (2.8 ; P < 0.01). However, in surviving calves, growth to first service was not affected by dystocia category (P > 0.05). Calves which survive dystocia experience lower passive immunity transfer, higher mortality and higher indicators of physiological stress. Such calves have poorer welfare in the neonatal period and possibly beyond. Strategies need to be implemented to improve the subsequent health and welfare of such calves and to lower the incidence of dystocia. 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

AB - Up to one-third of dairy calves are born after dystocia and this is a major cause of calf mortality. This study investigated the neonatal physiology, survival, health and subsequent growth of dairy calves following dystocia and is the first longitudinal study to analyse multiple effects and to look beyond the perinatal period. A total of 455 live born Holstein calves (N: No assistance, n = 360; FN: Farmer assistance but normally presented calf, n = 82; FM: Farmer assistance of malpresented calf, n = 13) were followed from birth to first service (heifers) or until leaving the farm (bulls). Compared to N calves, FN and FM animals had higher salivary cortisol concentrations at day 1 (P < 0.001) and FN calves had lower passive immune transfer (P = 0.03). Dystocia had no biologically significant impact on rectal temperature throughout the first 4 days (P > 0.05). During the first 60 days, FM calves had a higher proportion of days with non-routine health treatments (P < 0.05) and, by the time of weaning, mortality in FN and FM heifers was higher than in N calves (2.8 ; P < 0.01). However, in surviving calves, growth to first service was not affected by dystocia category (P > 0.05). Calves which survive dystocia experience lower passive immunity transfer, higher mortality and higher indicators of physiological stress. Such calves have poorer welfare in the neonatal period and possibly beyond. Strategies need to be implemented to improve the subsequent health and welfare of such calves and to lower the incidence of dystocia. 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

KW - Calving ease

KW - Dairy calf

KW - Mortality

KW - Parturition

KW - Welfare

M3 - Article

VL - 195

SP - 86

EP - 90

JO - Veterinary Journal

JF - Veterinary Journal

SN - 1090-0233

ER -

Barrier AC, Haskell MJ, Birch S, Bagnall A, Bell DJ, Dickinson JW et al. The impact of dystocia on dairy calf health, welfare, performance and survival. Veterinary Journal. 2012;195:86 - 90.