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Effects of Separation of Cows and Calves on Reproductive Performance and Animal Welfare in Tropical Beef Cattle

Facultad de Ciencias Agropecuarias, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos, Av. Universidad 1001, Colonia Chamilpa, Cuernavaca 62210, Morelos, Mexico
Departamento de Reproducción, Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Ciudad de México 04510, Mexico
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(5), 223;
Received: 16 February 2019 / Revised: 1 April 2019 / Accepted: 29 April 2019 / Published: 8 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare)
PDF [258 KB, uploaded 8 May 2019]

Simple Summary

This review summarizes knowledge on the separation of cows and calves and its effect on the onset of ovarian activity and animal welfare, principally in tropical beef cattle. After a brief introduction establishing the importance of calf separation to induce ovarian activity in their mothers and the welfare aspects that are jeopardized during this process, subsequent sections describe different strategies used for the separation of cows and calves, highlighting the effect of each method on beef cattle reproductive performance and welfare considerations of both cow and calf; conclusions and practical implications.


Nursing a calf suppresses postpartum ovarian activity prolonging the period of anestrus. Diverse methods are used to reduce the effect of suckling; the most popular, restricted suckling, reduces the number of encounters mother-calf. Temporal weaning of the calf for periods of 24 h, 48 h, or even 72 h also suppress the effect of suckling and is commonly applied to cow-calf operations in the tropics. Early weaning of the calf, usually three to five months after birth, is a practice gaining popularity over the traditional system of weaning at seven months. Furthermore, the use of nose-flaps in the calf to avoid suckling is a common procedure in South America. Finally, weaning during the first week after calving is an established method to reduce postpartum anestrus. The objective of the present review is to discuss the effects of these methods on the reproductive performance of beef cattle and their animal welfare implications. View Full-Text
Keywords: wellbeing; reproduction; Zebu; stress wellbeing; reproduction; Zebu; stress
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Orihuela, A.; Galina, C.S. Effects of Separation of Cows and Calves on Reproductive Performance and Animal Welfare in Tropical Beef Cattle. Animals 2019, 9, 223.

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