Ann Margaret Grøndahl1, Ellen Margrete Skancke1, Cecilie Marie Mejdell2 and Johan Høgset Jansen3
of Companion Animal Clinical Sciences, Norwegian School of Veterinary
Science, P.O. Box 8146 Dep., N-0033 Oslo, Norway
2National Veterinary Institute, P.O. Box 8156 Dep., N-0033 Oslo, Norway
3Department of Basal and Aquatic Medicine, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, P.O. Box 8146 Dep., N-0033 Oslo, Norway
Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2007,
49:16. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.
Over a period of two years, growth rate and health
were measured for dairy calves allowed to suckle their mothers up to
6–8 weeks of age. Thirty-one calves were weighted weekly, and the mean
daily growth rate was 1.2 ± 0.03 kg from birth up to 13 weeks of age.
Illness in calves and young stock was not observed. In the cows, the
mean incidences of ketosis, displaced abomasum, puerperal paresis,
mastitis, teat injury and retained placenta were 0, 0, 8, 22, 1 and 1%,
respectively, during a 6-year period. The mean daily gain of 56 growing
bulls was 1.4 kg when slaughtered at 15 months of age, which is higher
than the mean daily gain of 0.95 kg in the population. Probiotics,
hormones and vaccines were not used, and antibiotics were only used for
treating illness. The present study indicates many advantages and few
problems when dairy calves are penned together with the cows and
allowed natural feeding up to 6–8 weeks of age. This production system
was easy to manage, preferred by the farmer, and may satisfy the public
concern regarding the practice of immediate separation of cow and calf
in commercial milk production.