Liu, S., Ma, J., Li, J. et al. 2020. Effects of pair versus individual housing on performance, health, and behavior of dairy calves. Animals 10(1), 50.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of pair versus individual housing on performance, health, and behavior of dairy calves. Thirty female Holstein dairy calves were assigned to individual (n = 10) or pair housing (n = 10 pairs). The results showed that both treatments had a similar starter intake and average daily gain (ADG) during the preweaning period. During weaning and postweaning periods, paired calves had a higher starter intake, and the ADG of paired calves continued to increase but calves housed individually experienced a growth check. Paired calves showed higher diarrhea frequency only in week three. The results on behavior showed that feeding, chewing and ruminating time increased, and self-grooming time decreased with age during weaning and postweaning periods, and paired calves spent less time feeding, standing and self-grooming but more time lying during this time. After mixing, feeding, and chewing and ruminating time continued to rise, and self-grooming time continued to decline for both treatments. All calves spent less time standing and non-nutritive manipulation after mixing, and previously individually housed calves tended to increase non-nutritive manipulation. These results showed that pair housing improved growth during weaning and postweaning periods and that calves altered their behavior at different phases. Less social contact may lead to more non-nutritive manipulation.