Bìol. Tvarin, 2019, volume 21, issue 2, pp. 58–60


E. Rauch1, T. Kürn2, K. Bernhart2, K. Reiter2, M. Erhard1

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1Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Veterinary Sciences, Chair of Animal Welfare, Ethology, Animal Hygiene and Animal Husbandry,
Veterinärstrasse 13, Munich, 80539, Germany
2Bavarian State Research Center for Agriculture, Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Animal Husbandry, Grub,
Prof.-Dürrwaechter-Platz 1, Poing, 85586, Germany

The aim of this study was to find out how ad libitum milk intake affects weight gain, drinking behavior and cross-sucking in simmental calves. Right after birth 97 simmental calves were assigned either to the control group (RES: restricted group, fed only twice a day) or to the test group (ADL: milk was ad libitum available). All calves were housed in single boxes with straw bedding for the first two weeks of life and in group housing after this. Calves were fed colostrum in the beginning and acified milk afterwards. The individual milk intake and bodyweight was recorded, as well as the cross-sucking via video recording.

Until weaning the weight gain of the ADL calves was higher than that of the restricted group. This became also evident in the higher weight at the end of the trial. Although the calves of both groups took in the same amount of starter feed the ADL animals had a higher weight. The ADL fed calves drank more often but smaller portions throughout the day. There was no difference in drinking speed between the groups. Regarding the results of this study the ADL drinker increases the cross-sucking of calves kept in groups. The ad libitum drinker represents an animal-friendly feeding method for calves because the animals can perform their drinking behavior longer and more frequently during the day, no hunger periods occur and thus this feeding method better meets the natural behavior. By the higher frequency of milk intake during the day and the therefore higher suckling motivation the ad libitum drinker encouraged the cross-sucking of the calves in groups.


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