Type of document: Conference Paper
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More information on authors/freelancers connected to LBI :
Jan-Paul Wagenaar MSc.
Language of document: English
Title in English: Suckling, a natural calf rearing system for organic dairy farms
Abstract / summary in English:
Maternal behaviour and contact between cow and calf is limited or absent in modern dairy systems due to the wide use of bucket feeding. This is also the case in organic dairy systems. An increasing number of individual farmers are not satisfied with the artificial bucket feeding system. In order to improve the welfare of their dairy cattle, a number of organic farms introduced suckling systems. On the dairy farms that make use of a suckling system calves are suckled by their mother or a nurse cow, for a duration that ranges from three days up to three months. We evaluated on-farm the growth and production of calves reared in a bucket feeding system or a suckling system. Suckling systems make better use of the growing potential of calves in the first months of their lives. A high weaning weight may result in a lower age at first calving and a higher weight at calving. Higher bodyweight at calving also has a positive effect on milk production in the first lactation.