Calving management practices on Canadian dairy farms: Prevalence of practices

M. Villettaz Robichaud, A. M. de Passillé, D. L. Pearl, S. J. LeBlanc, S. M. Godden, D. Pellerin, E. Vasseur, J. Rushen, D. B. Haley

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Little information is available about current practices around calving in dairy cattle. The aim of this study was to describe calving management practices in the Canadian dairy industry related to housing, calving protocols, monitoring of parturition, and calving assistance. Information was gathered by in-person interviews from 236 dairy farms from 3 Canadian provinces (Alberta, Ontario, and Québec) with freestalls and an automatic milking system (n = 24), freestalls with a parlor (n = 112), and tiestalls (n = 100). The most commonly used types of calving facilities were group calving pens (35%) followed by individual calving pens (30%). Tiestalls were used by 26% of all surveyed producers as their main type of calving area (49% of the tiestall, 7% of the freestall with parlor, and 13% of the automatic milking system farms). Written protocols related to calving were found on only 7% of the farms visited, and only 50% of those protocols were developed with a veterinarian. However, 90% of producers kept written records of calving difficulty. Monitoring of cows around calving occurred 5 times more often during the daytime (between morning and evening milking) compared with nighttime. Cameras were used to monitor cows around and during calvings on 18% of farms. Sixteen percent of producers vaginally palpated all animals during calving. Twenty-seven percent of producers interviewed assisted all calvings on their farms by pulling the calf, and 37% assisted all heifers at calving. According to the producers' reported perception, 93% of them had "a minor problem" or "no problem" with calving difficulties on their farms. This study provides basic data on current calving practices and identifies areas for improvement and potential targets for knowledge transfer efforts or research to clarify best management practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2391-2404
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016



  • Calving pen
  • Calving practices
  • Cattle obstetrics
  • Survey

Cite this

Villettaz Robichaud, M., de Passillé, A. M., Pearl, D. L., LeBlanc, S. J., Godden, S. M., Pellerin, D., Vasseur, E., Rushen, J., & Haley, D. B. (2016). Calving management practices on Canadian dairy farms: Prevalence of practices. Journal of Dairy Science, 99(3), 2391-2404.