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Some husbandry factors affecting mortality and morbidity on a calf-rearing unit
  1. AR Peters


The influence of some husbandry factors on morbidity and mortality was studied in 1996 artificially reared, dairy bred calves over the period from purchase until about six weeks of age. The effects of housing (indoors versus outdoors), penning (individual versus group), breed, time since purchase and season of purchase were examined. The overall mortality rate was approximately 4 per cent and calves were more likely to die if reared in groups outdoors than if reared either singly or in groups indoors. The mortality rate was significantly lower in calves purchased between April and June than at other times of year. Pneumonia was the most common disease symptom (48.3 per cent of calves) with diarrhoea the second most common (14.1 per cent). Neither the type of penning nor housing affected the incidence of pneumonia but diarrhoea was most common in individually penned calves. Case mortality rates for diarrhoeic calves in group pens were higher than for those in single pens and case mortality rates for pneumonia were highest for calves reared in groups outdoors. More than half the cases of pneumonia occurred between one and three weeks after purchase whereas two-thirds of the cases of diarrhoea occurred within the first week after purchase. However, case mortality rates for both conditions appeared to increase with time since purchase.

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