Effects of management practices, animal transport and barn climate on animal health and antimicrobial use in Swiss veal calf operations.

Schnyder, Petra; Schönecker, Lutz; Schüpbach, Gertraud Irene; Meylan, Mireille (2019). Effects of management practices, animal transport and barn climate on animal health and antimicrobial use in Swiss veal calf operations. Preventive veterinary medicine, 167, pp. 146-157. Elsevier 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2019.03.007

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To assess the effects of transport, management factors and barn climate on calf health, 43 Swiss veal farms (11 large farms fattening ≥100 calves and 32 small farms fattening >20 but <100 calves per year) were monitored in a prospective cohort study over a period of one year. Detailed questionnaires on farm structure, management, housing system and animal health were filled out with the farmers during bimonthly visits, and barn temperature, humidity, ammonia and CO concentrations were measured. Temperature and humidity were also measured continuously over 72 h once each in winter and summer. In addition, calf purchase and transport from birth farm to fattening unit were documented by the farmers, and the study team accompanied one transport per farm whenever possible. Antimicrobial treatment incidence was calculated from the used daily dose (TI). Risk factors for mortality, average daily weight gain (ADG) and antimicrobial use, as well as factors related to transport and barn climate measures were evaluated with mixed regression models. The overall mortality rate was 5.1% (6.2% in large herds and 3.1% in small ones). Identified risk factors for mortality >3% included a lower number of calves fattened per year and a good hygiene of the feeder. This surprising result was likely due to the fact that the threshold of 3% mortality was rather exceeded in smaller farms. Furthemore, higher temperature variation (range between maximal and minimal temperature over 3 measurement days) in the calf pen was associated with mortality >3% in the univariable analysis. The overall mean ADG was 1.40 ± 0.16 kg. Calf purchase was significantly associated with decreased ADG. The median overall TI was eight daily doses per calf and year (2.1 in small farms and 26 in large farms, respectively); the main indication for treatment was respiratory disease (81.1%). Risk factors for increased TI were no quarantine upon arrival, access to an outside pen, higher numbers of calves per drinking nipple, mechanical ventilation, vaccination against bovine respiratory disease, and a maximum ammonia value >10 ppm in the calf pen. In addition, a higher number of birth farms and calf purchase from markets were associated with increased TI in the univariable analysis. The identified risk factors associated with increased TI and mortality and with decreased ADG should be addressed in priority in veal calf operations to improve calf health and reduce antimicrobial use.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine (DKV) > Clinic for Ruminants
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Public Health Institute
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine (DKV)
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH)

UniBE Contributor:

Schnyder, Petra; Schönecker, Lutz; Schüpbach, Gertraud Irene and Meylan, Mireille

Subjects:

600 Technology > 630 Agriculture
500 Science
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)

ISSN:

0167-5877

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Nathalie Viviane Zollinger

Date Deposited:

12 Aug 2019 13:56

Last Modified:

22 Oct 2019 19:17

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.prevetmed.2019.03.007

PubMed ID:

30948232

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Ammonia Calf fattening Commingling Mortality Risk factors Treatment incidence

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.131807

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/131807

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