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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri

SUCCEED - Sustainable systems with cow-calf-contact for higher welfare in dairy production

Alternative title: Funksjonelle løsninger for kontakt mellom melkeku og kalv

Awarded: NOK 8.8 mill.

The SUCCEED project aims to develop practical solutions for keeping cow and calf together in commercial dairy production. Public acceptance is pivotal for a sustainable dairy production, and the tradition of taking the calf away from the cow shortly after birth has been questioned. Many farmers express interest for keeping the two together for an extended period, which has the potential to improve animal health and welfare and to meet consumer expectations. However, there is a lack of knowledge on how to do this in a feasible and economically viable way in different housing systems, and the short and long-term effects. The project combines biological and social scientific methods to approach these issues. Functional technical solutions for cow-calf contact in loose-housing systems with different milking systems will be developed, as well as on pasture. Implications for health, behaviour and performance will be studied. Maternal behaviour will be studied with the ultimate goal of inclusion in the breeding program of Geno. Long-term effects of suckling on welfare (behaviour, health), and production (growth, milk yield, fertility) of cow and calf will be identified. Further, economic consequences of various cow-calf contact systems will be documented. Actors in the value chain of dairy products (represented by farmers, dairy processors, retailers, and consumers) will be interviewed to identify current and possible obstacles and opportunities for implementing systems for increased contact between dairy cow and calf. SUCCEED facilitates a joint action from the industry, dairy producers and researchers, and will provide an important basis for recommendations for the industry. This will enable the TINE advisory team to support farmers who want to implement cow-calf contact systems. The SUCCEED project will ensure high standards of animal health and welfare in dairy cow-calf contact systems and contribute to a sustainable production. The project started up 15.08.2020. A Ph.D.-student at NMBU began 03.11.2020. In addition, a researcher at NORSØK will take her Ph.D in the project. With the help of TINE, we have identified dairy farms where cows and calves are kept together. Among these, we recruit farmers to participate in the different parts of the projects. Interviews with different stakeholders along the value chain have largely been conducted. In a controlled experiment, we let dairy cows and calves have access to a mutual pen in which they can meet. By the end of 2021, 3 out of four batches are completed. A field experiment on co-grazing cows and calves was run in 2021. Studies on long term effects of cow-calf-contact on health and performance are in progress. Methodology to categorize maternal behaviour is under testing.

The SUCCEED project aims to establish science based and practically feasible methods to allow increased contact between cow and calf in dairy production. Public acceptance is pivotal for a sustainable dairy production, and the early separation of cow and calf is a management practice that has been questioned. New cow-calf contact systems have the potential to meet consumers' expectations and to improve animal health and welfare. The project aims to be in the forefront of developing solutions that consumers may demand in near future, and the project combines biological and social scientific methods to approach these issues. Thus, the SUCCEED project will develop functional technical solutions for cow-calf contact in robot and milk parlour systems, indoors and outdoors (WP1). The effects of co-grazing systems on animal health, behaviour and production will be studied (WP2); and long term effects of suckling on calf and cow performance (behaviour, health, production, fertility) will be identified (WP3). Current and possible obstacles and opportunities for implementing systems for increased contact between cow and calf in dairy production, as identified by actors in the value chain of dairy products, will be identified (WP4). Economic consequences of various cow-calf contact systems will be documented (WP4), and implementation of maternal traits in the breeding program of Geno will be prepared (WP3). SUCCEED facilitates a joint action from the industry, dairy producers and researchers. The project will provide an important basis for recommendations for the industry, and will enable the TINE advisory team to support farmers who want to implement cow-calf contact systems. The SUCCEED project will ensure high standards of animal health and welfare in dairy cow-calf contact systems and contribute to a sustainable production.

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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri