Transportation of any animal can be stressful, but perhaps more so for newborn calves. Calves are at an increased risk for health and welfare issues than their older counterparts due to a naïve immune system and their inability to thermoregulate their body temperatures. Other stressors impacting a calf’s welfare includes handling, loading, and weighing animals in a new environment, regrouping with unfamiliar animals, exposure to new pathogens, limited food and water during transport, and fluctuating temperatures. Research in the 90’s indicates few calves die during actual transport but die from a secondary infection within the following 4 weeks after transporting due to suppression of the immune system from stress.
With limited research on the welfare impact of calves transported long-distances, we can still provide best management practices to minimize stress and improve calf welfare. Learn more about transporting pre-weaned and market cows at https://dairy.extension.wisc.edu/articles/are-you-ready-for-your-calves-to-go-on-the-long-haul/