Transport at an older age: the key to a higher robustness of veal calves?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract


Age at arrival at the veal farm may be an important determinant of the biological state of a calf and may affectsubsequent health and performance. This study aimed to investigate effects of age of calves at transport from the dairyfarm to the veal farm on measures of health and performance, including the use of antibiotics or other medicines.Over a 34-week period, calves (n=684) were transported at an age of either 14 or 28 days from 13 dairy farms to 8veal farms. At each veal farm calves of both age groups and originating from all 13 dairy farms were present. Calvesfollowed the same rearing procedure at the veal farm together with calves that were not part of the study. Healthproblems were scored at the dairy farm on a weekly basis until the day prior to transport, and at the veal farm in week2, 6, 10, 18 and 24 post-transport. At both the dairy and the veal farms, mortality risk and the use of antibiotics andother medical treatments at individual calf level were recorded. Body weight (BW) was measured at arrival at the vealfarm, and carcass weight was recorded at slaughter. Clinical health problems and individual medical treatments wereexpressed as binary variables and analysed with the GLIMMIX procedure in SAS 9.4. Body and carcass weights wereanalysed with a linear mixed model. Non parametric Wilcoxon signed rank test was performed to test for mortality riskdifferences. Health problems at the veal farm did not differ between the two transport age groups. Relative to calvestransported at 14 days, calves transported at 28 days had a lower mortality rate (2.8% vs 5.9%) at the veal farm anda higher carcass weight (corrected for BW upon arrival Δ=12.8 kg). At the veal farm, calves transported at 28 daysreceived less individual medical treatments other than antibiotics (Δ=-5.4% of calves) than calves transported at 14days. Collectively, these results suggest that calves transported at 28 days are more robust and better able to cope withthe conditions at the veal farm than calves transported at 14 days.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts of the 73rd Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP)
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
ISBN (Electronic)9789086869374
ISBN (Print)9789086863853
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event73rd Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (2022) - Porto, Portugal
Duration: 5 Sept 20229 Sept 2022


Conference73rd Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (2022)
Abbreviated titleEAAP 2022

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