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Effect of health status evaluated at arrival on growth in milk-fed veal calves: A prospective single cohort study

Renaud, D.L., Overton, M.W., Kelton, D.F., LeBlanc, S.J., Dhuyvetter, K.C., Duffield, T.F.
Journal of dairy science 2018 v.101 no.11 pp. 10383-10390
autumn, average daily gain, body weight, carcass weight, cohort studies, farms, health status, models, regression analysis, slaughter, slaughterhouses, summer, veal, veal calves, winter
The objective of this prospective single cohort study was to determine the effect of health status at arrival on growth in milk-fed veal calves. Upon arrival at the veal facility, calves were evaluated using a standardized health scoring system and weighed, and the supplier of the calf was recorded. The calves were followed until slaughter, when the hot carcass weight (HCW) was reported. To calculate average daily gain (ADG), the HCW was transformed into an estimated live weight, weight at arrival was subtracted, and this value was divided by the number of days on feed. A mixed linear regression model was created to evaluate the association of health status on arrival with the ADG throughout the production period. A total of 4,825 calves were evaluated at arrival; however, due to inconsistent HCW data from one slaughter plant, and 357 calves dying during the production period, 2,283 calves were used for analysis. In the final model, 7 variables were significantly associated with ADG. Housing location within the farm, method of calf procurement (drover or auction-derived calves versus direct delivery from local farms) and having a higher body weight at arrival were associated with a higher ADG. The season of arrival (summer or fall compared with winter) and being dehydrated at arrival were associated with a lower ADG. Days on feed was also significant in the multivariable model and had a quadratic relationship with ADG. The associations identified suggest that there may be value in scoring dehydration and body weight at arrival to a veal facility.