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Effect of different milk-removal strategies at weaning on feed intake and behavior of goat kids

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 20:29 authored by Gosia Zobel, Hannah Freeman, Trevor WatsonTrevor Watson, Catherine CameronCatherine Cameron, Mhairi Sutherland
Weaning from milk is stressful for ruminants, particularly if the animals are not adjusted to consuming hard feeds. The aim of this study was to examine how dairy goat kids responded to milk removal if done abruptly, gradually via reduced volume, or gradually via reducing the amount of milk powder in the same volume of water. A total of 45 Saanen cross kids were housed in nine groups of five kids, and allocated to three replications of each treatment. Milk and pellet intake were monitored for two d prior to treatment to establish baseline intake. Treatments began on day 0. The gradual treatments were stepped down every 2 d, while the abrupt treatment continued to receive baseline milk allowance. On day 6, milk was no longer offered to all treatments. Measurements included weight gain, feed intake, vocalisations, rumination and lying behaviour. Pellet intake in kids varied among the treatments; abruptly weaned kids did not begin eating more pellets until milk was fully removed. Kids which had their milk diluted increased their pellet intake in the 2 d prior to weaning. The kids which received less milk, gradually increased their pellet intake, even after weaning. The remaining measures changed mainly as a result of complete milk removal, regardless of treatment. Kids vocalised more and rumination behaviour increased after weaning; however, kids were already actively ruminating prior to weaning. This suggests that due to their age, the transition off milk was likely made easier by the kids already consuming hard feeds. Further work is recommend which utilises younger kids.


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© 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • English

Does this contain Māori information or data?

  • No



Journal title

Journal of Veterinary Behavior




Zobel, G., Freeman, H., Watson, T., Cameron, C., & Sutherland, M. (2020). Effect of different milk-removal strategies at weaning on feed intake and behavior of goat kids. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 35, 62–68. doi:10.1016/j.jveb.2019.10.004


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