Clinical trial on type of calving pen and the risk of disease in Holstein calves during the first 90 d of life

Patrick Pithua, Scott J. Wells, Sandra M. Godden, Eran A. Raizman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of single cow calving pens that are cleaned between calvings vs. multiple cow calving pens for the prevention of calf diarrhea (scours), respiratory disease (pneumonia) and morbidity attributable to any cause. Every other pregnant cow or heifer was moved to either the single cow calving pen (treatment) or the multiple cow calving pen (control) within 48-72 h prior to actual calving. The calves born in the single cow calving pens were assigned to the treatment group while the calves born in the multiple calving pens were assigned to the control group. Fecal materials, placental remains, and any other conspicuous dirt were removed from the single cow calving pens between each calving prior to the introduction of the next pregnant cow. The calves were then separated from their dams within 2 h of birth. Multiple cow calving pens were managed as usual at the producers' discretion. Upon birth, the calf managers monitored each enrolled calf for signs of diarrhea, pneumonia plus other morbidity up to 90 d of age. The effects of single cow calving pens (vs. multiple cow calving pens) that are cleaned between calvings on the risk of neonatal calf diseases were evaluated using multivariable logistic regression models. Risk of diarrhea (OR = 0.93, P = 0.75), pneumonia (OR = 1.23, P = 0.64), and morbidity due to any cause (OR = 0.93, P = 0.74) were not significantly different between calves born in single cow vs. multiple cow calving pens. The current study found that, given the management situation evaluated, calves born in single cow calving pens were no different than calves born in multiple cow calving pens with respect to calf diseases risk. Long-term follow-up of the calves enrolled in the present study is ongoing to determine the efficacy of single cow calving pen use for the possible prevention of transmission of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in Holstein calves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-15
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 1 2009



  • Calf diseases
  • Clinical trial
  • Individual or single cow calving pens
  • Multiple cow calving pens

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