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Strategies for keeping cow and calf together in six European countries

Gundersen, Sofia (2020) Strategies for keeping cow and calf together in six European countries. Masters thesis, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences , Clinical Sciences. SLU Epsilon, Uppsala.

[thumbnail of gundersen_s_200505.pdf] PDF - English

Document available online at: http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-s-15499


Early cow-calf separation is a debatable topic in the dairy industry. The general practice on modern farms is to separate cow and calf within a couple of
hours after birth. This is to ensure the calf drinks enough of the important
colostrum and to easier observe its health. Consumers often oppose this practice and argues that it is unnatural. A system where cow and calf are together
for a longer period of time does have several benefits.
Letting a calf suckle its mother or a foster cow can help with developing social behaviours, boost growth and prevent stereotypical behaviours such as cross-sucking
there the calf suckles the interior or other calves. Having a cow being suckled can
have a positive impact on udder health and could result in a longer lactation period.
Some studies have even showed that it can be economically beneficial to have a
system with cow-calf contact.
In this master’s thesis the aim was to study innovative strategies for keeping cow
and calf together in dairy production. A total of 119 farmers have been interviewed
from six European countries on how they rear their calves. The participating countries were Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland. The criteria
for entering an interview was that the farmer had to keep cow and calf together for
more than seven days.
The main milking system for participating farms was a fishbone milking parlour.
Most farmers let the calf go with its mother and some had foster cows. The farmers
said that their cows and calves were healthier now than if they would been kept
apart. The main drivers for farmers to work with a system allowing longer cow-calf
contact were that it was more natural, calves were healthier, better for welfare purposes and they enjoyed working like this.
This thesis showed that there are active dairy farms using systems where cow and
calf are kept together and that it is possible to implement a cow-calf contact system
on a farm with a modern milking system.

EPrint Type:Thesis
Thesis Type:Masters
Keywords:cow-calf contact, separation, dairy cattle, milk production
Agrovoc keywords:
cow milk
calf feeding
dairy cattle
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems > Dairy cattle
"Organics" in general
Animal husbandry
Farming Systems > Social aspects
Food systems
Research affiliation: European Union > CORE Organic > CORE Organic Cofund > ProYoungStock
Sweden > Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) > Department of Clinical Sciences
Horizon Europe or H2020 Grant Agreement Number:727495
Deposited By: Alvåsen, Dr Karin
ID Code:39770
Deposited On:30 Apr 2021 05:26
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 09:06
Document Language:English

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