Date of Award:

Spring 2014

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences

Advisor/Chair:

Allen J. Young

Abstract

There has been little research conducted on the physiological response of calves to temperatures outside thermal neutrality and its effects on intake and weight gain. The effects of ambient temperature on Holstein dairy calves intakes and weight gain were evaluated over a 12-month period. Ambient temperature was monitored using a weather station located 1.3 kilometers from the Utah State University Caine Dairy. Calf health was monitored daily using the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine scoring criteria. Calves were fed whole milk and free choice calf starter. Weight gain, hip height, starter intake, and weather data (temperature, wind speed, relative humidity, precipitation, and barometric pressure) were averaged for 7-day intervals beginning at birth through 13 weeks of age. A regression model was developed including starter intake, milk intake, hip and wither height, calf heath scores, and weather data with weight gain as the dependent variable for each of the 4 seasons of the year. The fall season (September, October, and November) had a negative impact on calf intake and weight gain (averaging 20 pounds (9.1 kilograms) less at 2 months) than other seasons. Calves raised in the winter months also ate significantly more starter, but had the same weight gain as other seasons. Environmental stress factors impact animal welfare and animal productivity, which in turn impacts the economics of the dairy operation and should also be used in determining husbandry practices.

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