Most neonatal animals are healthy and vigorous but vulnerable, particularly during the first week of life, to hypothermia and starvation, infections and injuries, and predation. Information collated from the scientific literature and routine ante-mortem in-spections indicates that the main factors predisposing bobby calves to death or condemnation are inadequate colostrum/feeding, and immaturity. Correct feeding regimes and transport protocols can minimise welfare compromises to healthy calves and most presented for slaughter were found to be strong, alert and well fed. However, small numbers of immature, weak, sick and injured calves were also presented. Dead or moribund calves had digestive tract disorders, umbilical infections or were undiagnosed. No curd in the rumen and immaturity were common secondary findings. What is less understood is the degree of hunger bobby calves may experience; the interaction between age/maturity, husbandry, feeding practices, transport and lairage; the limits of feed depri-vation in ‘marginal’ calves; compromises to welfare amongst those animals which do not die or are condemned prior to slaughter; and the impacts of any procurement and processing requirements for periods in lairage.

MW, Fisher, RJ Wild, KR O'Grady, MJ Guigou, TJ Diesch, JV Jamieson, LJ Ward, and NJ Cross

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 77, Rotorua, 149-153, 2017
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