CHAIRE Member Dr. Jess Pempek Leads Project to Improve Dairy Beef Calf Welfare

Oct. 24, 2022

Earlier this month, the final round of data collection was completed for a research project led by CHAIRE member, Dr. Jess Pempek (Assistant Professor & Animal Welfare Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences), that is aimed at better understanding the welfare of dairy beef calves upon arrival to calf-raising facilities. 


Black & white calf in a pen drinking from a bottleAccording to Dr. Pempek, " The majority of dairy beef calves are transported long distances to calf-raising facilities. There are many stressors associated with the transport of young calves, including food and water deprivation, co-mingling with unfamiliar animals, extreme weather, etc. that can negatively impact their welfare. To improve calf welfare on arrival at the calf-raising facility, we are conducting a randomized field trial to investigate the impact of 0, 1, 2, or 3 days of oral electrolyte therapy following transport on measures of hydration, behavior, and subsequent health." 



Woman in blue coverall holding a black & white calf inserting a needle into the calf's neckData collection for this project was a team effort, as Dr. Pempek, Zach England (Research Associate, Department of Animal Sciences), and students and other volunteers from the Department of Animal Science and the College of Veterinary Medicine worked to measure several health parameters, including blood glucose levels, dehydration, clinical signs of disease, body temperature, and more. 


Dr. Pempek is working with fellow OSU collaborators, Dr. Andy Niehaus (College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences) and Dr. Greg Habing (College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine). This collaborative work was made possible by a new academia-industry partnership with veterinarians, Dr. Taylor Engle and Dr. Trey Gellert of Four Star Veterinary Service. Through their organization, they have a wide-reaching impact by providing veterinary services to more than half a million dairy beef calves. 


Person in pen with a calf with their hand on the calf's front leg   Person standing outside of pen holding a clipboard & pointing at calf in the pen   One person standing outside row of calf pens, two people in pens with calfs 

Zach England (left photo) and volunteers conducting health assessments of the calves


CHAIRE is proud to highlight this example of the important work being done by our members, as they work to improve considerations for animal welfare and promote positive human-animal interactions.


four calves in side-by-side wire pens, one person kneeling next to each cow, smiling at the camera