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Coping with citizen demands: a field study of suckling processes in dairy herds

Disenhaus, C.; Michaud, A.; Genot, N.; Valenzisi, L.; Pomiès, D.; Martin, B.; Chassaing, C. and Le Cozler, Y. (2018) Coping with citizen demands: a field study of suckling processes in dairy herds. Lecture at: Book of Abstracts of the 69th Annual Meeting of the European Association for Animal Production, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 27-31.08.2018.

[thumbnail of Dishenhaus et al 2018 EAAP-ppt.pdf] PDF - English


In dairy farms calves and cows are usually separated shortly after birth but this practice raises the question of animal welfare. This social concern may lead to bring back dairy calves to their mother. Even though suckling is quite seldom in dairy production, some farmers are using such a practice for many years. The present study aims to better know farmer’s motivations, practical implementation and farmer’s perception of the impact of suckling on performance and animal behaviour. In January 2018 a semi-quantitative survey was performed on 44 farms where calves suckle at least 24 hours their mother or a nurse cow. The farming systems differed on the size (20 to 140 cows), the type (19 conventional, 25 organic farms), the suckling (28 by the mothers, 16 by nurses), and the breed. Results indicate that main farmers’ motivations are calves’ health (52%), better working conditions (41%) and saving time (34%), with little consideration on animal welfare (7%). Numerous practices were found in terms of allowance of daily cow-calf contact and suckling duration with a difference between male and female calves. According to farmers, these practices were efficient to improved calves’ health (70%), save time (75%) and improved working conditions (52%). Weaning was considered as a stressful situation, especially after long suckling periods. Cow mooing usually stopped 2.5 d after weaning. At least 34 farmers are fully satisfied with this practice. The main challenge appears to be the management of the wildness of future heifers, by investing time to manipulate calves before weaning. The results of this survey could help to propose solutions to farmers who want to cope with the societal demand of keeping calves with dams in dairy herds.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Lecture
Keywords:dairy cows, calves, rearing systems, suckling, surveys, Core Organic Cofund, ProYoungStock
Agrovoc keywords:
dairy cows
rearing systems
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems > Dairy cattle
Animal husbandry > Feeding and growth
Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Research affiliation: European Union > CORE Organic Cofund > ProYoungStock
France > INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
Related Links:https://www.proyoungstock.net/
Deposited By: Pomiès, Dominique
ID Code:36513
Deposited On:07 Oct 2019 07:57
Last Modified:07 Oct 2019 07:57
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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