Interpretive Summary: Is there a right time for dairy Alpine goat kid weaning: How does the weaning age of dairy Alpine goat kids affect their growth and behavior?
By: Stéphanie Bélanger-Naud, Tania Wolfe, Athena Zambelis, Janie Lévesque, Carl Julien, Elsa Vasseur
In dairy goat kids, there is limited literature available on weaning management practices, despite this period being one of the most stressful events for kids and being associated with measures of poor welfare. This study aimed to compare weaning of dairy goat kids at 6-, 8-, and 10-wk of age to maximize outcome measures of welfare related to growth, feed intake, and behavior. Kids weaned at 10 wk of age had the greatest increase in concentrate consumption and decrease in vocalization. Both 8- and 10-wk kids had the greatest increase in self-grooming and cross-sucking. Kids weaned at 6-wk of age had the smallest increase in concentrate consumption, greatest decrease in self-grooming, and greatest increase in allogrooming and redirected behaviors aimed towards the environment. No negative impact of weaning on growth was identified. Our results showed a higher degree of discomfort behaviors in kids weaned earlier compared to later weaning at 8- or 10-wk. Despite similar levels of discomfort behaviors for kids weaned at later ages, vocalization difference was greatest for kids weaned at 8 wk of age. Kids weaned at later ages seem to cope better with the transition to solid feed compared to kids weaned at an early age.
Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.