University Presentation Showcase: Undergraduate Division

Project Title

Effect of Breed on Dairy Calf Vigor from Birth to Preweaning

Presenter Information

Michelle MezaFollow

Presenter Hometown

Lexington

Major

Agriculture Pre-Vet

Department

Agriculture

Degree

Undergraduate

Mentor

Andrea K. Sexten

Mentor Department

Agriculture

Abstract

There is a stigma in the dairy industry that Brown Swiss calves are not as quick to nurse colostrum following birth compared to other dairy breeds. The objective of this study is to determine if Brown Swiss calves are less vigorous at birth and, if this impacts early calf growth compared to dairy industry’s most prominent breed, the Holstein. All calves (n=25) were scored after birth using a modified Apgar scoring system. Thirteen parameters divided into 5 categories were evaluated to determine overall vigor of each calf, these categories included visual appearance, initiation of movement, general responsiveness, oxygenation and rates. In addition, a weight was taken at birth and at 2 weeks, as well as jugular blood samples collected at birth, 24 hours, and at 2 weeks. Vigor scores and weight data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure in SAS. The vigor score for suckling reflex was lower (P = 0.04) for Brown Swiss calves than Holstein calves (1.69 vs. 2.39, respectively). A weakened suckling reflex can lead to more challenges when consuming colostrum. Early colostrum intake is vital to obtaining passive immunity and maintaining health status in young calves. All other vigor scores collected for the Brown Swiss and Holstein calves did not differ (P > 0.05).

Presentation format

Poster

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Effect of Breed on Dairy Calf Vigor from Birth to Preweaning

There is a stigma in the dairy industry that Brown Swiss calves are not as quick to nurse colostrum following birth compared to other dairy breeds. The objective of this study is to determine if Brown Swiss calves are less vigorous at birth and, if this impacts early calf growth compared to dairy industry’s most prominent breed, the Holstein. All calves (n=25) were scored after birth using a modified Apgar scoring system. Thirteen parameters divided into 5 categories were evaluated to determine overall vigor of each calf, these categories included visual appearance, initiation of movement, general responsiveness, oxygenation and rates. In addition, a weight was taken at birth and at 2 weeks, as well as jugular blood samples collected at birth, 24 hours, and at 2 weeks. Vigor scores and weight data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure in SAS. The vigor score for suckling reflex was lower (P = 0.04) for Brown Swiss calves than Holstein calves (1.69 vs. 2.39, respectively). A weakened suckling reflex can lead to more challenges when consuming colostrum. Early colostrum intake is vital to obtaining passive immunity and maintaining health status in young calves. All other vigor scores collected for the Brown Swiss and Holstein calves did not differ (P > 0.05).