Welfare assessment in calves fattened according to the “outdoor veal calf” concept and in conventional veal fattening operations in switzerland
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
The “outdoor veal calf” system was developed to encounter the demand for a veal fattening system that allows for reducing antimicrobial use without impairing animal welfare. Management improvements including direct purchase, short transportation, vaccination, three-week quarantine in individual hutches, and open-air housing in small groups in a roofed, straw-bedded paddock with a group hutch were implemented in a prospective intervention study (1905 calves, 19 intervention and 19 control farms, over one year): antimicrobial use was five times lower in "outdoor veal" farms compared to control farms (p < 0.001), but it was crucial to ensure that antimicrobial treatment reduction was not associated with decreased animal welfare, i.e., that sick animals were not left untreated. Welfare was assessed monthly on the farms, and organs of 339 calves were examined after slaughter. Cough and nasal discharge were observed significantly (p ≤ 0.05) less often in intervention than in control farms, mortality (3.1% vs. 6.3%, p = 0.020) and lung lesion prevalence (26% vs. 46%, p < 0.001) were lower; no group difference was seen in abomasal lesion prevalence (65% vs. 72%). Thus, besides reduced antimicrobial use, calf health and welfare were improved in "outdoor veal calf" farms in comparison to traditional operations. Show more
Journal / seriesAnimals
Pages / Article No.
Subjectveal industry; animal welfare; housing; pneumonia; abomasal ulcers; antimicrobial use; treatment incidence
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