The behaviour, growth rate, feed intake, health and slaughter quality of group-housed veal calves fed automatically with milk replacer were compared with those of veal calves kept in individual crates and bucket-fed the same milk replacer. The growth rate and feed intakes of the group-housed calves were lower than those of the calves in individual crates. Their feed conversion rates were similar and there were no significant differences in carcase conformation. The meat of the group-housed calves was paler in colour. The feeding behaviour of the group-housed calves was studied to see whether sick animals could be identified at an early stage but behaviour alone provided an inadequate detection system. Intensive health controls in one of the trials showed that infectious respiratory and digestive diseases may be a greater problem in group-housed veal calves than in veal calves kept in crates.
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