Dutch dairy farmers are improving calf rearing

Dutch dairy farmers are improving calf rearing

"Dineke just started the young stock course by @CowSignals and @NZOZuivel. Going ahead with some improvements right away"

Article in Dutch >>

Thanks to the Dutch organization Duurzame Zuivelketen - 'sustainable dairy chain' - Dutch dairy farmers can subscrive to the online training YoungStock Signals for a small fee.
Subscribtion has been open for two months now and several farmers had a dynamic start. Farmers Jan, Dineke, Bennie and Wilma tell us what they think of the course.

Why did you subscribe to the course?

“You should leave no stone unturned to optimize calf rearing”.

The farmers have different reasons to subcscribe to the course. Jan says: "You should leave no stone unturned to optimize calf rearing. After the first calving there is little to be done in the development of a quality dairy cow. Correcting at a later age has less effect than addressing bottlenecks at the start". Other farmers mention that calf rearing is already going well on their farm, but that they're always interested in learning what can be done to improve even more. Dineke also says: "It's easily accessible and you can do it in your own time. Ideal!"

What do you think of the course so far?

“There's a lot that you already know about, but now they also tell you how to carry it out in practise ”.

Farmers call the course clear, fun and educational. Dineke especially likes the part about colostrum. "There's a lot that you already know about, but now they also tell you how to carry it out in practise ”. Jan talks about the practical examples and the theoretical background. "There's a global idea of what calving should look like, but put a few farmers together and you'll have three different approaches. The videos show us, also based on research, a pretty elaborate approach. That might take a bit more work, but if it will prevent pneumonia and dhiarrhea, I know that farmer will be prepared to take these extra steps. I don't believe farmers don't want an optimal result, I believe there is just a lack of information".

How do you watch the course?

Most farmers watch the course alone. Dineke says: "Only when I find something very interesting, I have my partner watch with me". The course is watched on a computer or laptop, for example just after lunch or at sunday morning. Jan tells us he makes notes, which he uses for example to set the drinking machine.

Twitter Geert 2.PNG
Extra straw yard for calves till 6 months to prevent the growth dip.

What changes made the course happen so far?

“The first calf looks extremely well according to the dealer”

Bennie has purchased a minimelker as a result of the course, to milk the cows for the first time in the calving yard or the pasture. Dineke and Geert made a straw yard, so the calves can stay on the slats and the straw for the first half year. Dineke also mentions: "We're trying to optimize colostrum supply. I've also started to feed the calves more. The result is more money for the bull calves, so that pays off". Jan says: "For me it resultated in a standard procedure around calving. Now the cows goes, if she's well, directly into the milking yard. The calf will be on a wheelbarrow right in front of her, so she can still reach her. There will be some feed on the calf, so the cow can let the colostrum down easily and without stress. The colostrum will go into the calf immediately. The first bull calf that we did this with looks extremely well according to the dealer. Of course this is not just the new procedure, but it is good to see a healthy and active animal". Jan also placed some wind deflectors and he'll be putting an old fridge in the barn for storing colostrum. Wilma does the same: "Now I give them the first colostrum untill it is all gone. Earlier I would be quicker to pick up the second colostrum, because that is still warm. We also bought a fridge for in the barn".

About YoungStock Signals

Sustainable dairy chain is a coöperation between dairy processors and dairy farmers. They made the online course YoungStock Signals available for 1.000 Dutch farmer for a small fee of € 29 (cost price: € 300). Half of the available places have been taken. Interested farmers can subscibe here with a dutch UBN-number and tank number.

YoungStockSignals training that is available for everyone:

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