Development of a welfare assessment protocol for dairy calves from birth through to weaning

The aim of this study was to develop a welfare assessment protocol using different indicators, for pre-weaned dairy calves, that is feasible and time efficient. To this end, the protocol had to combine animal-based indicators (measurements on physiology, general appearance and behaviour) providing the basis for welfare assessment, with resource-based indicators (measurements on management and […]

Effects of human handling during early rearing on the behaviour of dairy calves

We examined the effects of daily positive or negative human handling on the behaviour of Holstein-Friesian dairy calves (n = 20 calves per treatment, five calves per group). The response to humans and indicators of positive emotions were examined at four weeks of age. Calves that received positive handling approached a familiar handler within 1 […]

Assessing the welfare of dairy calves: outcome-based measures of calf health versus input-based measures of the use of risky management practices

The mortality and morbidity of unweaned dairy calves and management practices that may impair calf health and welfare were surveyed on 115 farms in Canada (Quebec) and 60 farms in Central Europe (Austria and Germany) to examine whether outcome-based measures of calf health could be used to identify farms that use management practices that place […]

Suckling, weaning, and the development of oral behaviours in dairy calves

Dairy calves are generally separated from their dam at birth. They express non-nutritive oral activities such as licking or sucking other calves or objects, nibbling, or tongue-playing, which have been related to the absence of sucking a teat and ingestive chewing. We hypothesized that the dam, by its presence, can help focus the oral behaviour […]

Is rearing calves with the dam a feasible option for dairy farms?—Current and future research

In the dairy industry it is common practice to separate cow and calf shortly after birth but this practice is disputed because of animal welfare concerns. Some producers, in many countries, milk cows that also nurse dairy calves. These cow–calf systems allow nursing as well as affiliative and other natural behaviours. In this review paper […]

Contact with cows during the young age increases social competence and lowers the cardiac stress reaction in dairy calves

Separating calf and cow within 24 h after birth is common practice in dairy farms. Some dairy farmers, however, practice a rearing system in which the calves are nursed by their dam or by foster cows. We investigated if dairy calves reared in such a system (calves with cow-contact) differ in their social behaviour and […]

Scientific evaluation of animal emotions: Brief history and recent New Zealand contributions

The idea of animals having emotions was once rejected as being anthropomorphic and unscientific. However, with society’s changing views and advances in scientific knowledge and technology, the idea of animal emotions is becoming more accepted. Emotions are subjective internal experiences that can’t be measured directly. Animal welfare scientists must infer emotions by measuring the behavioural, […]