Myth: "Calves forgive and forget"
early socialization and housing effects on performance, health, behavior and cognition
Keywords:dairy calves, housing, socialization
Early-life social contact in dairy calves has been associated with effects on performance, health, behavior, and cognition. Here we will first describe the negative impact of social isolation in mammals, especially dairy calves, followed by a summary of the opportunities and benefits of providing social partners in early life. Finally, we will discuss what we know about how to successfully raise calves in groups from birth, with emphasis on the benefits and challenges associated with group housing. We conclude with solutions to common pitfalls for producers that are already using group housing or those interested in transitioning. Pair or group housing of dairy calves can provide positive outcomes and can be done successfully when attention is given to group size, cleanliness, proper nutrition, and management.