Newborn calf welfare: a review focusing on mortality rates

Anim Sci J. 2013 Feb;84(2):101-5. doi: 10.1111/asj.12019. Epub 2012 Dec 26.


Calf mortality control is vitally important for farmers, not only to improve animal welfare, but also to increase productivity. High calf mortality rates can be related to larger numbers of calves in a herd, employee performance, severe weather, and the neonatal period covering the first 4 weeks of life. Although the basic premise of preventing newborn calf mortality is early detection and treatment of calves at risk for failure of passive transfer of immunoglobulins, calf mortality due to infectious diseases such as acute diarrhea increases in the presence of these physical and psychological stressors. This suggests that farmers should not ignore the effects of secondary environmental factors. For prevention rather than cure, the quality of the environment should be improved, which will improve not only animal welfare but also productivity. This paper presents a review of the literature on newborn calf mortality and discusses its productivity implications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animal Welfare*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn*
  • Cattle Diseases / mortality*
  • Cattle*
  • Colostrum / immunology*
  • Colostrum / metabolism
  • Dysentery / mortality*
  • Dysentery / veterinary*
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Immunoglobulins / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / mortality*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / veterinary*
  • Seasons


  • Immunoglobulins