Abstract / Description of output
BACKGROUND: Successfully rearing beef calves to weaning and beyond determines the economic performance of a beef farm. As such, it is important to understand the factors influencing performance outcomes.
METHODS: This study recorded the health events, mortality and growth rates of 674 calves born on 50 commercial beef farms in Great Britain using a postsampling questionnaire. All calves had a known postcolostral serum IgG status.
RESULTS: Preweaning mortality in the study population was 1.5% (10/674 calves), while the treatment rate was 6.4% (43/674 calves). Serum IgG, calf sex and dystocia were significant predictors of whether a calf died and/or required treatment. Average daily liveweight gain was calculated for calves where weaning weights were provided (n = 513). Serum IgG and calf sex were consistent predictors of calf growth rates, while birthweight and whether the calf was born to a cow or heifer were predictive in a model where average daily liveweight gain was converted to a binary response variable using the mean average daily liveweight gain on the calf's farm of origin.
LIMITATIONS: Morbidity and mortality were lower than comparable studies, potentially due to limitations in the study design.
CONCLUSION: Serum IgG and calf sex were significant explanatory variables that affected beef calf average daily liveweight gain. For every 5 g/L increase in serum IgG, the odds ratio of dying and/or requiring treatment decreased by 0.86.