Multidisciplinary approach to evaluating welfare of veal calves in commercial facilities.

Carolyn Stull, S. P. McDonough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Due to pending legislation and public concerns, a multidisciplinary approach was designed to investigate the welfare of special-fed veal calves in commercial veal facilities. Concerns included housing conditions, dietary regimens, management practices, and behavioral aspects imposed on special-fed calves. Four categories of parameters including environment and housing, nutrition, health and stress, and behavior provided a broad base of evaluating veal systems. Observations and samples were collected on 550 Holstein bull calves located in 10 commercial veal facilities. Each facility was visited to collect data during wk 0 (week of arrival of the calves), 2, 4, 8, 12, and 16. Nine facilities used individual stalls 48 to 55 cm in width with tethers attached to the front of the stalls. One facility housed 30 calves in group pens after obtaining calves at 8 wk of age. Ammonia, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide gas did not exceed the permissible limit for humans in any facility. All facilities exceeded the 2-foot-candle recommendation for lighting. The average daily gain of calves was .85 kg during wk 0 to 8 and 1.18 kg during wk 8 to 16. Dietary iron levels decreased from 209 ppm at wk 0 to 32 ppm at wk 16. At 16 wk, 25% of calves were marginally anemic and 10% clinically anemic. Overall mortality was 4.2%. Stress indices such as plasma cortisol concentrations or neutrophil to lymphocyte ratios declined as calves approached market weight. In either pens or stalls, calves spent approximately 25 and 75% of time in standing and lying positions, respectively.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2518-2524
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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