Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Animal Science


Animal Science


College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


Julie Huzzey

Advisor Department

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Advisor College

College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


The objective of this study was to measure the effects of both a nutritional (water nipple) and social (partner calf) enrichment on calf body weight, grain intake, water intake, behavior and learning. The enrichments included 1) water provided from a nipple vs. a bucket (nutritional) and 2) visual and tactile access to a partner vs. isolated rearing with no visual or tactile access to a partner calf (social). A total of 72 Holstein and Jersey dairy calves were pseudo-randomly distributed into 4 treatments at birth [Individual/Bucket (IB), Paired/Bucket (PB), Individual/Nipple (IN), Paired/Nipple (PN)]. Socially and nutritionally enriched calves drank more water than non-enriched calves (Social: 5.02 ± 0.27 kg/d vs 3.723 ± 0.27 kg/d respectively; P = 0.0009; Nutritional: 4.93 ± 0.27 kg/d vs. 3.81 ± 0.26 kg/d respectively; P = 0.004). No difference in daily grain intake was found between individual or pair reared calves except during wk 8 (1.31 ± 0.07 kg/d vs 1.60 ± 0.07 respectively kg/d; P= 0.04). There were no differences in average body weight among treatments (P > 0.20). Pre-milk delivery, calves reared on a water bucket spent more time standing (P= 0.03) and when paired, less time non-nutritively suckling compared to water nipple reared calves (P = 0.05). Grooming time was highest during period 2 (wk 3, 4, 5; P = 0.01)) pre-milk delivery. Post-milk delivery, calves reared on a water bucket spent more time drinking milk (7.13 ± 0.40 vs 5.37 ± 0.39 min; P = 0.005)and grooming (P= 0.05), and less time drinking water (P < 0.001)and lying (6.17 ± 1.02 vs 9.19 ± 0.97 min, respectively; P= 0.04)than water nipple reared calves. Water nipple calves when paired exhbited longer drinking times (P = 0.04)..The most notable behavior was cross suckling post-milk delivery, as the weeks progressed water bucket reared calves increased time spent cross-suckling while water nipple calves maintained the amount of time spent cross-suckling. At wk 8 a subset of 24 calves (6 from each treatment) were trained over 14-d period to differentiate between an “X” and “O” cue to receive a milk reward (visual discrimination task). Learning (% correct choices) was compared using a Wilcoxon-signed rank test. Calves individually reared had greater overall correct choices than pair reared calves (0.63 ± 0.02 % correct/total choices vs 0.57 ± 0.02 % correct/total choices respectively: P = 0.05), while calves reared with a nutritional enrichment (water nipple) had greater overall correct choices compared to water bucket reared calves (0.64 ± 0.02 % vs 0.56 ± 0.02 %, P = 0.02). These results indicate that social and nutritional enrichments positively influence calf cognitive performance, water intake, and lying, cross-sucking, grooming behaviors.