Detecting sick calves

08 Nov, 2018 04:00 PM
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Calves can show subtle signs of disease up to two days before it is apparent.
Step activity, lying bouts, and milk intake may prove to be a useful tool in identifying disease.
Calves can show subtle signs of disease up to two days before it is apparent.

US researchers tracking sick calves with auto-detectors found they displayed symptoms two days before the condition became apparent.

The scientists from Virginia paired calves with respiratory disease with healthy hutchmates and compared their movement measurements and milk intake. They used an automatic calf feeder and the 30 pre-weaned calves were each fitted with an accelerometer.

The unwell calves were less active before, on the day of, and after respiratory disease diagnosis. They had reduced lying frequencies starting two days before diagnosis, as well as after diagnosis. They also consumed less milk.

"Step activity, lying bouts, and milk intake may prove to be a useful tool in identifying respiratory disease," the researchers reported. "Housing of calves can pose a challenge in identifying respiratory disease; therefore, it is necessary to develop tools that can identify these disease events."

This article courtesy of GippsDairy News first appeared in the May-June 2018 edition of the Australian Dairyfarmer

See the calf-rearing section our website for more stories like this one. Click here

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