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Strategies for keeping dairy cows and calves together on European farms

Eriksson, Hanna; Fall, Nils; Priolo, Alessandro; Caccamo, Margherita; Michaud, A.; Pomiès, D.; Fuerst-Waltl, Birgit; Weissensteiner, R.; Winckler, Christoph; Spengler Neff, Anet; Bieber, A.; Schneider, Claudia; Sakowski, Tomasz; Stachelek, Magdalena; Ivemeyer, Silvia; Simantke, Christel; Knierim, Ute and Alvåsen, Karin (2021) Strategies for keeping dairy cows and calves together on European farms. In: Book of Abstracts of the 72nd Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Sciences. Davos, Switzerland. 30 August - 3 September 2021, Wageningen Academic Publishers, The Netherlands, no. 27, p. 480.

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The purpose of this study was to identify and describe strategies used by European dairy farmers with cow-calf contact (CCC) systems. Farms allowing at least 7 days CCC in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland were interviewed between September 2018 and January 2019 following a standardised questionnaire. In total, 104 interviews were included in the analysis; no CCC farms were identified in Poland. Average herd size was 53±59 (mean ± SD) cows. Dam rearing was practiced on 34% of farms, while 12% used foster cows, 28% used a mix of dam and foster cows and 23% first let the calves suckle their dam and then manually milk fed them. On 46% of farms, the calves had full day contact (except at milking), while 5% practiced half day CCC and 36% let the calves suckle at milking. Farmers perceived several benefits with keeping cow and calf together, including improved overall health (79% of farms) and weight gains (84%) in calves. Udder health in suckled cows was most often perceived as the same (40% of farms) or improved (38%) as in systems with early separation. Common drivers for using CCC systems were improved calf health, more natural farming system and increased labour efficiency. The most commonly stated barrier for implementing CCC was barn construction, while stress responses when separating cows and calves were observed by many farmers (87% of farms). The study suggests that there is a range of different strategies allowing CCC used on European farms, and identifies research regarding suitable housing during the suckling period and routines for cow-calf separation as key.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Speech
Keywords:Cow-calf contact, housing, management, drivers, barriers, animal health and welfare, Abacus, FiBL50090, ProYoungStock
Agrovoc keywords:
dairy cattle
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems > Dairy cattle
Farming Systems > Farm economics
Animal husbandry > Feeding and growth
Farming Systems > Social aspects
Animal husbandry > Breeding and genetics
Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Farming Systems > Buildings and machinery
Farming Systems > Farm nutrient management
Research affiliation: European Union > CORE Organic > CORE Organic Cofund > ProYoungStock
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Animal > Animal welfare & housing > Animal husbandry
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Animal > Animal welfare & housing > Animal welfare
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Animal > Cattle
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:42754
Deposited On:09 Nov 2021 08:07
Last Modified:13 Jan 2022 10:04
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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