Survey of management practices related to bovine respiratory disease in preweaned calves on California dairies

W. J. Love, Terry W Lehenbauer, B. M. Karle, Lindsey E. Hulbert, Randall J. Anderson, A. L. Van Eenennaam, Thomas B Farver, Sharif S Aly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


In the spring of 2013, a survey of California (CA) dairies was performed to characterize management practices related to bovine respiratory disease in preweaned calves, compare these practices across geographic regions of the state, and determine the principal components that explain the variability in management between herds. The questionnaire consisted of 53 questions divided into 6 sections to assess management practices affecting dairy calves from precalving to weaning. The questionnaire was mailed to 1,523. grade A licensed dairies in CA and 224 responses (14.7%) were collected. Survey response rates were similar over the 3 defined regions of CA: northern CA, northern San Joaquin Valley, and the greater southern CA region. The mean size of respondent herds was 1,423 milking cows. Most dairies reported raising preweaned calves on-site (59.7%). In 93.3% of dairies, preweaned calves were raised in some form of individual housing. Nonsaleable milk was the most frequent liquid diet fed to preweaned heifers (75.2%). Several important differences were identified between calf-raising practices in CA and practices reported in recent nationwide studies, including herd sizes, housing practices, and sources of milk fed to heifers. The differences between the CA and nationwide studies may be explained by differences in herd size. Regional differences within CA were also identified. Compared with the 2 other regions, northern CA dairies were found to have smaller herds, less Holstein cattle, calves remained with dams for longer periods of time after calving, were more likely to be certified organic dairies, and raised their own calves more often. Principal component analysis was performed and identified 11 components composed of 28 variables (questions) that explained 66.5% of the variability in the data. The identified components and questions will contribute to developing a risk assessment tool for bovine respiratory disease in preweaned dairy calves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1483-1494
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Bovine respiratory disease
  • California dairies
  • Dairy calves
  • Preweaning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Science
  • Genetics


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