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Concept: Veal


Many dairy cows in the developed world are now housed exclusively indoors with fewer than 5% of the 10 million lactating cows in the United States having access to pasture during the grazing season. Indoor housing systems are designed to meet biological needs for food, water, hygiene, and shelter, but surveys of public and farmer opinion suggest that people think that pasture access is also important for the well-being of dairy cows. To determine if pasture access is important to the cows themselves, we investigated to what extent cows will work to access pasture (by pushing on a weighted gate), and compared it to the motivation to access fresh feed. Cows worked at least as hard to access pasture as they did to access the fresh feed and worked hardest for outdoor access in the evening hours. Echoing public views on what allows for a good life for cattle, these results show that cows are highly motivated for outdoor access.

Concepts: United States, Milk, Cattle, Dairy farming, Dairy cattle, Pasture, Livestock, Veal


Milk from dairy cows contains the protein β-lactoglobulin (BLG), which is not present in human milk. As it is a major milk allergen, we wished to decrease BLG levels in milk by RNAi. In vitro screening of 10 microRNAs (miRNAs), either individually or in tandem combinations, identified several that achieved as much as a 98% knockdown of BLG. One tandem construct was expressed in the mammary gland of an ovine BLG-expressing mouse model, resulting in 96% knockdown of ovine BLG in milk. Following this in vivo validation, we produced a transgenic calf, engineered to express these tandem miRNAs. Analysis of hormonally induced milk from this calf demonstrated absence of BLG and a concurrent increase of all casein milk proteins. The findings demonstrate miRNA-mediated depletion of an allergenic milk protein in cattle and validate targeted miRNA expression as an effective strategy to alter milk composition and other livestock traits.

Concepts: Gene, RNA, Milk, Cattle, Dairy farming, Dairy cattle, Livestock, Veal


Anecdotal evidence suggests that people coming into contact with cattle while participating in outdoor pursuits can sustain severe, even fatal injuries. This has negative implications for farmers, cattle and the public. This study outlines findings from a review of published literature, UK media reports and internet guidelines currently available to the UK public for walking near cattle. A total of 54 cattle attacks were reported in the UK media from 1 January 1993 to 31 May 2013; approximately one-quarter resulted in fatality and two-thirds involved dogs. Walking with dogs among cows, particularly with calves present, was a problematic context. Twenty pieces of commonly occurring advice were found within various guidelines. However, there are no definitive approved guidelines, no published studies describing the prevalence of cattle attacks on members of the public and no system in place to document them. Attacks by cattle are underinvestigated and further work should assess their public health impact.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Cattle, Veal, Evidence, Scientific evidence, Calf, Anecdotal evidence, Immigration to the United Kingdom since 1922


The objective of this study was to identify a suitable alternative to the current practice of complementing the feeding of milk by-products with straw. The influence of 5 different types of solid feeds on health and performance of Swiss veal calves was investigated in 2 production cycles of 200 veal calves each with a mean initial age of 40 days (d). The calves were housed in groups of 40 in stalls with outside pen. Liquid feeding consisted of a milk by-product combined with an additional skim milk powder ad libitum. Groups were assigned to 1 of the 5 following experimental solid feeds provided ad libitum: mix (composition: soy flakes, corn, barley, wheat, oat, barley middling, plant oil, molasses), whole plant corn pellets, corn silage, hay, and wheat straw as control. Daily dry matter intake per calf averaged 2.25 kg of the liquid food, 0.16 kg of straw, 0.33 kg of mix, 0.47 kg of corn silage, 0.38 kg of corn pellets, and 0.39 kg of hay. No significant differences (P > 0.05) among groups were found in calf losses that amounted to 4.8 % (68 % because of gastrointestinal disorders). Four percent of the calves were slaughtered prematurely. Daily doses of antibiotics were higher in the mix (36.9 d, P < 0.01) and in the corn silage groups (35 d, P < 0.01) compared to control. Compared to the 4 other groups, calves of the straw group showed the highest prevalence of abnormal ruminal content (73 %, P < 0.05), of abnormal ruminal papillae (42 %, P < 0.05), of abomasal fundic lesions (13.5 %, P < 0.1), and the lowest number of chewing movements per bolus (45, P < 0.05). The hemoglobin concentration averaged 85 g/l at the beginning and 99 g/l at the end of the fattening period with no significant differences among groups (P > 0.1). The duration of the fattening period averaged 114 d, slaughter age 157 d, and carcass weight 122 kg. The average daily weight gain (ADG) was highest in the control group straw (1.35 kg), and lowest in the hay group (1.22 kg, P < 0.01). The number of carcasses classified as C, H, and T (very high to medium quality) was lower in the hay group compared to straw (P < 0.01). No significant differences between groups were found in meat color (P > 0.1): 73 % of the carcasses were assessed as pale (267/364), 18 % as pink (66/364), and 9 % (31/364) as red. The results reveal that whole-plant corn pellets are most consistent with an optimal result combining the calves' health and fattening performance. Therefore, it can be recommended as an additional solid feed for veal calves under Swiss conditions.

Concepts: Milk, Cattle, Veal, Calf, Powdered milk, Silage, Fodder, Straw


Cows with left displaced abomasum (LDA), a costly disease occurring primarily in multiparous dairy cows during early lactation, have been reported to have 40% lower circulating concentrations of vitamin E. It is unknown, however, whether the lower circulating α-tocopherol concentrations precede LDA or remain after LDA. Using a nested case-control design, blood samples taken at d -21, -14, -7, -3, -1, 0, 1, 3, 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, and 49 postpartum from 7 multiparous Holstein cows diagnosed with LDA between d 6 and 32 postpartum and 10 healthy Holstein cows from the same herd were analyzed for serum concentrations of α-tocopherol and indicators of energy and nutrient status and inflammation. In addition to indicators of negative energy balance and inflammation, lower serum α-tocopherol concentrations preceded LDA and persisted after LDA correction. At the last blood sampling before LDA diagnosis, cows had serum α-tocopherol concentrations 45% lower (5.0 ± 0.9 vs. 9.1 ± 0.9 μM) and α-tocopherol to cholesterol molar ratios 39% lower (1.90 ± 0.19 vs. 3.09 ± 0.26) than those of healthy cows. Serum α-tocopherol concentrations remained lower (<10 vs. ∼15 μM) up to d 49 postpartum in cows that had LDA. These findings indicate that lower serum α-tocopherol concentrations are a potential early indicator for the development of LDA in multiparous cows.

Concepts: Nutrition, Milk, Addition, Cattle, Dairy farming, Dairy cattle, Veal, Abomasum


Examining the characteristics of an animal’s lying behaviour, such as frequency and duration of lying bouts, has become increasingly relevant for animal welfare research. Triaxial accelerometers have the advantage of being able to continuously monitor an animal’s standing and lying behaviour without relying on live observations or video recordings. Multiple models of accelerometers have been validated for use in monitoring dairy cattle; however, no units have been validated for use in equines. This study tested Onset Pendant G data loggers attached to the hind limb of each of two mature Standardbred horses for a period of 5 days. Data loggers were set to record their position every 20 s. Horses were monitored via live observations during the day and by video recordings during the night to compare activity against accelerometer data. All lying events occurred overnight (three to five lying bouts per horse per night). Data collected from the loggers was converted and edited using a macro program to calculate the number of bouts and the length of time each animal spent lying down by hour and by day. A paired t-test showed no significant difference between the video observations and the output from the data loggers (P=0.301). The data loggers did not distinguish standing hipshot from standing square. Predictability, sensitivity, and specificity were all >99%. This study has validated the use of Onset Pendant G data loggers to determine the frequency and duration of standing and lying bouts in adult horses when set to sample and register readings at 20 s intervals.

Concepts: Statistics, Milk, Mammal, Cattle, Horse, Accelerometer, Veal, Domestication of the horse


The objective of this study was to evaluate commercially available precision dairy technologies against direct visual observations of feeding, rumination, and lying behaviors. Primiparous (n = 24) and multiparous (n = 24) lactating Holstein dairy cattle (mean ± standard deviation; 223.4 ± 117.8 d in milk, producing 29.2 ± 8.2 kg of milk/d) were fitted with 6 different triaxial accelerometer technologies evaluating cow behaviors at or before freshening. The AfiAct Pedometer Plus (Afimilk, Kibbutz Afikim, Israel) was used to monitor lying time. The CowManager SensOor (Agis, Harmelen, Netherlands) monitored rumination and feeding time. The HOBO Data Logger (HOBO Pendant G Acceleration Data Logger, Onset Computer Corp., Pocasset, MA) monitored lying time. The CowAlert IceQube (IceRobotics Ltd., Edinburgh, Scotland) monitored lying time. The Smartbow (Smartbow GmbH, Jutogasse, Austria) monitored rumination time. The Track A Cow (ENGS, Rosh Pina, Israel) monitored lying time and time spent around feeding areas for the calculation of feeding time. Over 8 d, 6 cows per day were visually observed for feeding, rumination, and lying behaviors for 2 h after morning and evening milking. The time of day was recorded when each behavior began and ended. These times were used to generate the length of time behaviors were visually observed. Pearson correlations (r; calculated using the CORR procedure of SAS Version 9.3, SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC), and concordance correlations (CCC; calculated using the epiR package of R version 3.1.0, R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria) evaluated association between visual observations and technology-recorded behaviors. Visually recorded feeding behaviors were moderately correlated with the CowManager SensOor (r = 0.88, CCC = 0.82) and Track A Cow (r = 0.93, CCC = 0.79) monitors. Visually recorded rumination behaviors were strongly correlated with the Smartbow (r = 0.97, CCC = 0.96), and weakly correlated with the CowManager SensOor (r = 0.69, CCC = 0.59). Visually recorded lying behaviors were strongly correlated with the AfiAct Pedometer Plus (r >0.99, CCC >0.99), CowAlert IceQube (r >0.99, CCC >0.99), and Track A Cow (r >0.99, CCC >0.99). The HOBO Data Loggers were moderately correlated (r >0.83, CCC >0.81) with visual observations. Based on these results, the evaluated precision dairy monitoring technologies accurately monitored dairy cattle behavior.

Concepts: Milk, Cattle, Dairy farming, Dairy cattle, Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient, Beef cattle, Mastitis in dairy cattle, Veal


Camera-based systems in dairy cattle were intensively studied over the last years. Different from this study, single camera systems with a limited range of applications were presented, mostly using 2D cameras. This study presents current steps in the development of a camera system comprising multiple 3D cameras (six Microsoft Kinect cameras) for monitoring purposes in dairy cows. An early prototype was constructed, and alpha versions of software for recording, synchronizing, sorting and segmenting images and transforming the 3D data in a joint coordinate system have already been implemented. This study introduced the application of two-dimensional wavelet transforms as method for object recognition and surface analyses. The method was explained in detail, and four differently shaped wavelets were tested with respect to their reconstruction error concerning Kinect recorded depth maps from different camera positions. The images' high frequency parts reconstructed from wavelet decompositions using the haar and the biorthogonal 1.5 wavelet were statistically analyzed with regard to the effects of image fore- or background and of cows' or persons' surface. Furthermore, binary classifiers based on the local high frequencies have been implemented to decide whether a pixel belongs to the image foreground and if it was located on a cow or a person. Classifiers distinguishing between image regions showed high (⩾0.8) values of Area Under reciever operation characteristic Curve (AUC). The classifications due to species showed maximal AUC values of 0.69.

Concepts: Milk, Cattle, Dairy farming, Dairy cattle, Beef cattle, Veal, Wavelet, Discrete wavelet transform


Hypocalcemia is a metabolic disorder that affects dairy cows during the transition from pregnancy to lactation. Twelve multiparous Holstein cows and twelve multiparous Jersey cows were intravenously infused daily for approximately 7 days prepartum with either saline or 1.0mg/kg bodyweight of the immediate precursor to serotonin synthesis, 5hydroxy-l-tryptophan (5-HTP). On infusion days, blood was collected before, after, and at 2, 4, and 8h postinfusion. Blood and urine were collected daily before the infusion period, for 14 days postpartum and on day 30 postpartum. Milk was collected daily during the postpartum period. Feed intake and milk yield were unaffected by 5-HTP infusion postpartum. Cows infused with 5-HTP had elevated circulating serotonin concentrations prepartum. Infusion with 5-HTP induced a transient hypocalcemia in Jersey cows prepartum, but not in any other treatment. Holstein cows infused with saline had the highest milk calcium on the day of and day after parturition. Postpartum, circulating total calcium tended to be elevated, and urine deoxypyridinoline (DPD) concentrations were elevated in Holstein cows infused with 5-HTP. Overall, Jerseys had higher urine DPD concentrations postpartum when compared with Holsteins. Taken together, these data warrant further investigation of the potential therapeutic benefit of 5-HTP administration prepartum for prevention of hypocalcemia. Further research should focus on delineation of mechanisms associated with 5-HTP infusion that control calcium homeostasis during the peripartum period in Holstein and Jersey cows.

Concepts: Childbirth, Milk, Calcium, Cattle, Dairy farming, Dairy cattle, Veal, Jersey cattle


Standard practice in the dairy industry is to separate the calf and dam immediately after birth and raise calves in individual pens during the milk-feeding period. In nature and in extensive beef systems, the young calf lives in a complex social environment. Social isolation during infancy has been associated with negative effects, including abnormal behavior and developmental problems, in a range of species. Here, we review empirical work on the social development of calves and the effects of social isolation in calves and other species; this evidence indicates that calves reared in isolation have deficient social skills, difficulties in coping with novel situations, as well as specific cognitive deficits. We also review the practices associated with group housing of dairy calves, and discuss problems and suggested solutions, especially related to cross-sucking, competition, aggression, and disease. The studies reviewed indicate that social housing improves solid feed intakes and calf weight gains before and after calves are weaned from milk to solid feed. Evidence regarding the effects of social housing on calf health is mixed, with some studies showing increased risk of disease and other studies showing no difference or even improved health outcomes for grouped calves. We conclude that there is strong and consistent evidence of behavioral and developmental harm associated with individual housing in dairy calves, that social housing improves intakes and weight gains, and that health risks associated with grouping can be mitigated with appropriate management.

Concepts: Psychology, Milk, Cattle, Dairy farming, Dairy, Social relation, Veal, Calf