Little information is available on how much water ad libitum milk-fed calves consume during the milk-feeding stage and during weaning to solid feed. Further, no information exists on the effects on calf behavior and performance of different water delivery systems during these stages. Therefore, the objectives of this study were first, to examine the water intake of calves fed acidified milk replacer ad libitumduring the milk-feeding and weaning stages, and second, to determine whether the method of water delivery affected water and feed intake and growth during these periods or oral behavior during weaning. To evaluate this, we registered feed and water intake, growth, and oral behaviors of 24 dairy calves before and after abrupt weaning from a 7-wk ad libitum acidified milk replacer feeding regimen. Two water sources (open bucket and nipple) were compared. During the 7-wk milk-feeding period, the calves drank, on average, 12.9 +/- 0.7 L/d of acidified milk replacer but very little water. However, after abrupt removal of milk, the 2-mo-old calves rapidly increased their water intake. Moreover, no differences in water intake between the 2 water sources were noted either before or after abrupt weaning. Calves were observed to have some difficulties in using the water nipple. Calves provided water through the nipples consumed less water at each drinking bout but visited the water nipple more frequently compared with calves provided access to water from the bucket. We observed no differences in all other behaviors observed. Overall, the calves rapidly increased their feed intake, rumination time, frequency of cross-sucking, and vocalization after weaning. In conclusion, despite the calves' consuming very little water when provided ad libitum access to acidified milk replacer, they dramatically increased their water consumption after abrupt weaning from milk. Calves did experience some difficulties in using the water nipples.
Fields of Science
- 413 Veterinary science
- 412 Animal science, dairy science