PhD defence

A journey to improve robustness of veal calves


Robustness can be defined as the ability of calves to cope with environmental challenges and to bounce back rapidly after challenges occur. A robust calf is able to cope with diseases and may need less antimicrobials, which are frequently used in the veal sector. This thesis investigated effects of different environmental and animal-related factors on robustness of veal calves. Feeding milk prior to transport of calves to the veal farm and 6 h transport resulted in a better energy balance of the animals compared to feeding electrolytes and 18 h transport. Transporting calves from the dairy farm to the veal farm at 28 d of age resulted in improved robustness compared to 14 d of age expressed as 1) a more advanced adaptive immunity in week 2 post-transport, 2) lower prevalence of calves individually treated with medicines other than antibiotics, 3) lower mortality rate and 4) higher carcass weight.