Effect of weaning on performance and behaviour of calves and their dams in dairy cows – A review



This article reviews the effects of 2 calf rearing systems (weaning vs suckling) on milk production, milk composition, udder health and reproduction of dairy cows and buffaloes; and effects on body weight gain, milk intake, milk intake time, immune status, health and behaviour of their calves. Restricted suckling increased milk yields to the level of 15 to 30% in purebred as well as in crossbred cows, lowered milk fat content and reduced the risk of mastitis. Suckling increased post-partum interval until first heat due to delayed post partum resumption of ovarian activity. The suckled calves had in general higher daily body weight gain, lower incidence of abnormal behaviours, better immune status and thus were more healthy as compared to weaned calves. The suckling system may, therefore, be more beneficial to the performance and welfare of calves and their mothers than artificial rearing system but may cause some economic losses due to reduced fat content in milk and delayed post partum estrus.


Behaviour, Dairy cows, Health, Performance, Suckling, Weaning

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Print ISSN: 0367-8318

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