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‘Whose views and ways are changing?’ Perspectives of change and transition related to cow-calf contact systems in European dairy farming

Vaarst, Mette; Verwer, Cynthia; Constancis, Caroline; Sørheim, Kristin and Johanssen, Juni Rosann E. (2021) ‘Whose views and ways are changing?’ Perspectives of change and transition related to cow-calf contact systems in European dairy farming. In: Schmid, Otto; Johnson, Marion; Vaarst, Mette and Früh, Barbara (Eds.) Organic Animal Husbandry Systems - ways to improvements, Organic Eprints, pp. 35-38.

[thumbnail of Vaarst-et-al-2021-Pages from Final-IAHA-Pre-Conference-OWC2021-cow-calf-systems.pdf] PDF - English


This presentation summarises some of the changing perspectives of and transitions to cow–calf contact systems, including identifying the challenges and benefits of the various types of systems, in particular dam-rearing and nurse-cow systems. No dairy system in the study countries was initially designed to enable cow–calf contact, but a multitude of systems allowing cow–calf contact have since been developed based on existing farm structures. Interviews and case studies show that the development requires significant changes in practices, attitudes and farm structures, all of which require a lot of investment. Research over the last two to three years in this area has considered several potential ways in which organic dairy systems could encompass forms of cow–calf contact. Whilst on the one hand these studies have acknowledged the ‘naturalness’ of cow and calf systems, including the motivation behind them and the need for the cow and calf to be together, ‘unnatural elements’ have also been highlighted, for example the high milk yields, deep udders and large herd sizes in today’s dairy sector. Some issues remain unresolved and the future organic dairy sector will be required to find further solutions. One major issue is that of male calves, which are often removed from their dam early and in an abrupt way. This raises questions as to whether the current development of dam-rearing and other types of cow–calf contact systems can be seen as niche innovations, or as part of a larger change in the socio-technological landscape around dairy farming and calves. These changes are still ongoing in terms of organising new systems that are friendly and less restrictive for cows and calves, and could potentially be part of a larger transition at the systemic dairy farming level.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Speech
Keywords:Cow-calf contact systems; dam-rearing; mother-bonded, GrazyDaiSy
Agrovoc keywords:
dairy cattle
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems > Dairy cattle
"Organics" in general
Farming Systems > Social aspects
Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication
Research affiliation: Denmark > AU - Aarhus University
European Union > CORE Organic > CORE Organic Cofund > GrazyDaiSy
Netherlands > Louis Bolk Institute
France > INRAe - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement
Norway > NORSØK - Norwegian Centre for Organic Agriculture
Deposited By: Vaarst, Dr. Mette
ID Code:43092
Deposited On:03 Jan 2022 10:27
Last Modified:03 Jan 2022 10:27
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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