The Dairy Cattle Welfare Council supports social housing in pairs or groups for dairy calves starting from 1 to 4 days of age. Housing for dairy calves must provide clean, dry, comfortable shelter and allow normal behavior and emotional development. Social housing of calves has been shown to:
- Improve cognitive development
- Improve social skills and play
- Improve emotional support during stressful procedures
- Decrease stress at weaning
- Aid in ameliorating anxiety and stress associated with separation from the dam at birth
Social housing, with appropriate management, provides better quality of life for calves compared to individual housing. The DCWC encourages adoption of social housing for dairy calves.
(Position Statement adopted by the DCWC Executive Board; March, 2021)