Short Communication: Association between neonatal calf diarrhea and lying behaviors

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The objective of this study was to determine the association of neonatal calf diarrhea (NCD) with step activity and lying behaviors in pre-weaned dairy calves. Calves were housed in individual hutches for the first 6 days of life, and then moved into a group pen. On the day of birth, calves (n = 30) were fitted with an accelerometer, and step activity and lying behaviors were recorded. Calves were assigned a fecal score (FS) twice daily using a 0 to 3 scale, and were diagnosed with NCD (n = 10) when the score was a 3. To ensure the only association noted was due to NCD, calves that had any other health complications were excluded from analyses (n = 1). Calves with NCD were pair matched by age, breed, and birthdate to a healthy calf. Day 0 was designated as the date of NCD diagnosis. Calves with NCD spent less time lying (P < 0.05) and displayed more lying bouts (P < 0.05) of a shorter duration (P < 0.01) than healthy calves. Specifically, calves with NCD displayed more lying bouts on days -7 (P < 0.05), -6 (P < 0.01), -5 (P < 0.01), -4 (P < 0.01), and -3 (P < 0.05). Similarly, lying bout duration was shorter for calves with NCD on days -6 (P < 0.05), -5 (P < 0.05), -4 (P < 0.01), and -3 (P < 0.01). Additional research is needed to examine if these tools can be used to identify diseased calves prospectively.

Accelerometer, Lying behaviors, Neonatal calf diarrhea, Pre-weaned calf, Step activity