Cow and calf

Cow and calf

How long should cow and calf be tohether? We have two farmers giving their insights from their farms.

Listen to Angela

and Fred

"Don't kill them with kindness!"

Danish legislation requires 12 hours of contact. What do you think? Please also share your experience with us!

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Comments (13)

Marit de Haan

Hello, It is all very well but whether you seperate the calf from the cow early or later it is ethically wrong......

Steffen Elmer

When the calf is out she should be moved straight away to the incubator, after 2 hours she receives 4 liter high quality colostrum. Afterwards she is then moved to her box when necessary with a coat

Sandra Baxendell

If the herd has a Johne's disease problem then it is essential that calves are removed as soon as possible and fed on pastuerized colostrum. Otherwise you are sentencing calves to a slow painful death years later.

Lesley Moffat

If the herd is healthy then we should encourage barns designed so that also dairy calves can stay in the heard and not be separated shortly after birth. Keep them together, at least until a more " natural " weaning age, and then do gradual weaning using nose flaps or gradual solid fencing.
I would not say giving colostrum is " good " , but a basic right and necessary for the calf! Good would be if they took extra steps that improved the quality of life and behavioural expression possibilities of the calves and cows. The farm in Wisconsin at least had calves on deep bedding, much better than the slatted flooring at most farms in the Netherlands. Although again, that is likely a must because Wisonsin has winters like Montreal where I am originally from. If you don't give bedding and even jackets they can get sick and een freeze to death. Nevetheless, both farmers seemed really open to show their barn and talk, which is always a good sign and first step. But let's make dairy production more all-round ethical- keep cow and calves together in the family and give calves more opportunities than just hutches or indoor small pens like we still usually see.

Valerie Jonckheer-Sheehy, Animalytics

I didn't get the advice from the 2nd person. What was it? I watched twice but seem to have missed it.
I'm inclined to agree with Leslie (gut instinct). What research (if any) has been done on the welfare and productivity implications of different weaning ages?
What are the two specialists, specialists in? I missed that too.

Anouk Brinkhoff

Valerie Jonckheer-Sheehy, Animalytics wrote:
What are the two specialists, specialists in? I missed that too.

They are the farmers!

Anouk Brinkhoff

We prefer cow licking calf clean and dry for 1-2 hours!
Preferably we put calf in a cuddle box, just in front of the pamper pen!
So mother can lick baby, but baby stays clean!!

Susanne Pejstrup

Danish legislation requires 12 hours of contact, but I think that is psychological hard for both cow and calf. It gives a lot of stress because they get to be connected. Due to that, It is better to take the calf right away.


we should sepreate them after birth.


we should sepreate them after birth.


For a large Dairy Farm, my advice from the past 30 years of farming will be as follows:
1. Allow the mother to lick clean for 20 to 30 mts. taking care to prevent the calf getting up and start sucking. Once the calf get used to sucking the teats, it will be difficult to change to bucket feeding.
2. Move the calf to the Calf hutches , while the Colostrum is milked by machine and taken to the calf hutch for bucket feeding. It is better to check the quality of Colostrum by Colostrometer. I used to feed the top quality for 1st feeding of 2 Litres within 45 minutes of calving. Balance preserved for next feeding of 2 Litres in 8 hrs. 1st 24 hrs, calf should get 2X 3 = 6 Litres Colostrum, but the 1st feeding is the most important one.
Average or poor Quality Colostrum can be used for 2nd and 3rd feeding.
Always a patient 15 minutes of training the calf for the 1st feeding pays. Relax for subsiquent feeding.

Joep Driessen

Thanks for all your reactions! Great advice!

Alex Nieuwland

half our with the mother to lick the calf has a positive effect, especially for the calf, I would not recommend longer to prevent bonding,, a healty cow will prever a good meal and water after giving birth. 250 grams of IgG's within 24 ours is the standerd for colostrum, don't only look at liters.
Feeding whole milk will delay rumen development, research shows that these calves produce150 liters less milk per lactation.

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