Minimising the stress of weaning of beef calves: a review.

TitleMinimising the stress of weaning of beef calves: a review.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsEnríquez D, Hötzel MJ, Ungerfeld R
JournalActa veterinaria Scandinavica
Date Published2011
KeywordsAnimal Husbandry, Animal Welfare, Animals, Cattle, Stress, Physiological, Weaning

Weaning of beef calves is usually done abruptly and early compared to the natural weaning of the species, and is associated with simultaneous exposure of calves to a range of social and environmental stressors. Behavioural and physiological responses to weaning indicate detrimental effects on the welfare of these animals. The development and assessment of weaning methods aiming at reducing or avoiding this problem must be supported by scientific knowledge of the morphological, physiological and psychological mechanisms involved in the establishment, maintenance and braking of the cow-calf bond. Solutions also depend on the understanding of the various stressors associated with weaning, among which are the change in diet, cessation of nursing, separation from the dam, the change to a new spatial environment and the need for social reorganization following removal of the adults from the group. This review discusses these issues and assesses the effectiveness of the methods so far proposed for improving the welfare of beef calves during the weaning period.

Alternate JournalActa Vet. Scand.