Effects of Pair versus Individual Housing on Romanian Simmental x Limousine Crossbreed Calves Behaviour

Radu I. Neamț, Silviu Ilie Săplăcan, Stelian Acatincăi, Ludovic Toma Cziszter, Daniela E. Ilie

Abstract


The aim of the study was to assess the effects of housing method on Romanian Simmental x Limousine (RS x L) crossbred calves behaviour. To investigate these effects 12 RS x L calves were separated from damns within the first hour after birth and were housed either individually (n=6) or in pair (n=3 pairs) on straw bedded pens. The inactive standing, habitat exploring and playing behaviours were recorded on days 15, 30, 45 and 60 after birth. Individually housed calves spent more time (P≤0.016) standing inactive (means ±SEM) 5.16±0.47 bouts / day compared to pair housed calves (3.12±0.57 bouts / day). In gregarious animals, presence of a partner reduces stress and fear due to the social isolation. The pair housed calves spent significantly less time (P≤0.039) to explore the habitat (3.5±0.56 bouts / day) compared to individually housed calves, which resulted in higher frequency of exploration bouts (5.83±0.79 bouts / day). Also, paired calves spent more time (P≤0.001) in social contact, playing with the partner (4.16±0.7 bouts / day) compared with individually housed calves (0.16±0.06 bouts / day). These results indicate that housing calves in pairs generated benefits for calves such as better welfare condition, social opportunities and expression of desired behaviours patterns.

Keywords


housing method, crossbreed calves, welfare, behaviour

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