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Verwer, C. and A. Kok. 2012. Alternative weaning strategies to diminish acute distress during weaning and separation from the dam after prolonged suckling. In: 2nd Organic Animal Husbandry Conference. Hamburg, Germany. September 12-14, 2012.

Number of pages: 7

Type of document: Conference Paper

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More information on authors/freelancers connected to LBI :
Cynthia Verwer Ph.D.


Language of document: English

Title in English: Alternative weaning strategies to diminish acute distress during weaning and separation from the dam after prolonged suckling

Abstract / summary in English:

Prolonged suckling allows the dam to perform behaviours associated with maternal care. These behaviours allow the cow to bond with her calf and to provide it with nourishment. However, this maternal bonding process has practical challenges at the time the farmers want the calves to be weaned and separated from their dam as both the dam and calf often show a pronounced behavioural response. By means of on-farm research we have identified characteristics signalling emotional distress resulting from weaning and separation and investigated practical management strategies to reduce weaning- and separation-induced distress. These include social buffering at the time of weaning, postponement of separation after weaning by the use of nose-flaps, and gradual weaning and separation by means of fence line contact. Compared to abrupt weaning and separation after a prolonged suckling period, the investigated strategies significantly reduced distress vocalisations, stereotypies and replacement behaviour and prevented weight loss of the calves.


Keywords in English: dairy cattle, calf rearing, prolonged suckling, weaning, animal welfare
Alternative weaning strategies to diminish acute distress during weaning and separation from the dam after prolonged suckling