Canadian National Dairy Study
Heifer calf management
Keywords:dairy cattle, heifer, management, Animal welfare, pain control, heifer calf health, rearing practices, rearing strategies, Canadian dairy farms
Care and management of dairy heifer calves early in life has substantial short- and long-term impacts, from affecting calf morbidity and mortality rates to future milk production. In the past decade, substantial changes have occurred in the way dairy heifer calves are managed. Animal welfare standards have also changed globally. While there is some evidence that the use of pain control for disbudding has increased in the province of Ontario in recent years, no national data have been collected regarding this practice. Other early life heifer calf management practices, as well as morbidity and mortality rates, have not been described at the Canadian national level. In this regard, the objectives of this study, part of phase I of the 2015 Canadian National Dairy Study, were to examine heifer calf health, adoption of rearing practices, and explore factors associated with different rearing strategies on Canadian dairy farms.