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Research Articles

Relationship between management practices and calf welfare in mid- country dairy farms in Sri Lanka

Authors:

W. P. C. G. Weerasinghe,

University of Peradeniya, LK
About W. P. C. G.
Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture
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E. Rajapaksha,

University of Peradeniya, LK
About E.
Department of Veterinary Clinical Science, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science
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W. W. D. A. Gunawardena,

University of Ruhuna, LK
About W. W. D. A.
Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture
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T. S. Samarakone

University of Peradeniya, LK
About T. S.
Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture
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Abstract

There is an emerging trend towards appreciating welfare of farm animals in Sri Lanka. A survey was conducted covering 182 farms in Mid-Country, Sri Lanka to identify management-related risk factors that may affect welfare of dairy calves. A total of 217 calves were monitored where majority were Jersey (54.4%) and Friesian (43.9%) crosses. The management-related risk factors identified include, not practicing naval disinfection for new-borns (100%), not using calving pens (100%), absence of calf pen (96.2%), dam-fed colostrum (99.5%), high mortality (28.0%), high prevalence of hock wounds (83.4%) and diseases (80.2%). Concrete/cement was the prominent flooring category (90.1%) which causes unfriendly footing as indicated by hoof damageable (45.6%), slippery (75.8%), and unclean (40.7%) floor conditions. The hoof damageable floors considerably increased hoof temperature (P<0.05) whereas slippery and dirty floors positively (P<0.05) contributed to the prevalence and severity of hock wounds by 31.1% and 17.2%, respectively. Attitude of stockperson varied with the age where youths (19-30 years) concerned more about proper access to concentrate (61.0%), immediate calf-dam separation (20.2%) and proper age of weaning (58.4%) than adults (31-65 years) and seniors (>65 years). Welfare of male calves was satisfied with appropriate weaning age (3.8+1.4 months), concentrate supplement (0.55+0.25 kg), attending to health problems (96.5%) and selling after six months of age (89.6%). However, both female and male calves were under weight for their corresponding age. The findings emphasized that increasing the awareness on appropriate calf management practices is needed for achieving better results in raising calves into well-grown cattle.

How to Cite: Weerasinghe, W.P.C.G., Rajapaksha, E., Gunawardena, W.W.D.A. and Samarakone, T.S., 2020. Relationship between management practices and calf welfare in mid- country dairy farms in Sri Lanka. Tropical Agricultural Research, 31(1), pp.103–113. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/tar.v31i1.8347
Published on 01 Jan 2020.
Peer Reviewed

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