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Research article2006Peer reviewedOpen access

Mortality in Swedish dairy calves and replacement heifers

Svensson C, Linder A, Olsson SO


The mortality of 8,964 heifer calves born in 122 dairy herds in southwest Sweden in 1998 to 2000 was monitored from January 1998 until December 2000. Farmers were requested to send carcasses for necropsy from animals that died from 1 d of age to first calving. Age and seasonal patterns of mortality were investigated using Kaplan-Meier curves. The median herd-level mortality risk was 2.1%. In total, 3.1% of the animals died before 90 d of age, 0.9% between d 91 and 210, and 2.2% between d 211 and first calving or d 810 (27 mo of age). The median age at death was 50 d and the risk of dying was highest during the first week of life. Of the 421 dead animals, 236 (56%) were subjected to either postmortem examination or were diagnosed as having died from trauma based on information from the farmers. In total, pneumonia was the most common cause of death (27%). However, in calves less than 31 d old, enteritis was the most common cause of death; in young stock 211 to 450 d old, trauma dominated; and in young stock more than 450 d old, trauma and calving-related diseases accounted for a majority of the mortality. The largest proportion of deaths was observed from January to March, and in June. Kaplan-Meier curves suggested that housing in small-group pens was associated with the lowest mortality (other housing systems were single pens and large-group pens with automatic milk feeders), but the association was not significant


dairy calf; mortality; risk factors; death cause

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2006, Volume: 89, number: 12, pages: 4769-4777

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Veterinary Science
    Animal and Dairy Science

    Publication identifier


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