Project without external funding

Influence of different stimulations in the parlour on the milk let-down of dairy cows in a dam rearing system of calves
Influence of half-day mother-calf-contact on the productivity of cow and offspring



Project Details
Project duration: 20102012


Abstract
In Germany it is common practice in conventional and organic dairy farming to separate the newborn calf from its dam a few hours after birth. Calves are fed via bucket (with or without nipple) or automatic milk feeder and cows are milked. A more natural system is the dam rearing of the calves, where they can spend time with their mother and can drink at their dams' udder. There is evidence that this system has advantages concerning growth and normal behaviour of the calves and no negative influence on calf health, udder health and fertility of the cows. A significant disadvantage of this system is the reduced milk yield which can be gained during machine milking. Not only the calves drink more at their mothers than during artificial rearing, but, furthermore, the cows often show a disturbed alveolar milk ejection. Thus, the produced milk in the udder cannot completely be gained by milking. This leads to economic losses of the farm and may increase the risk for mastitis in cows. Therefore, the effects of different stimuli applied during milking to cows with and without contact to their calves were investigated in this study. The tested stimuli were of different origin: acoustic (recorded calling of hungry calves), olfactory (hair of the own calf) and tactile (massage of the teats). The outcome variables investigated were milk yield, milk composition, milk flow characteristics, behaviour and heart rate during milking. In addition, the behavioural reaction of cows with and without calf-contact was tested towards different olfactory samples (hair of the own calf vs. hair of an alien calf vs. control). The research project was carried out at and in cooperation with the Institute of Organic Farming, Thünen Institute (Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries) in Trenthorst.

As another possibility to increase the milk yield gained by machine milking, we tested half-day contact between dam and calf in contrast to permanent and no mother-calf-contact. The study was conducted from October 2011 to June 2012 on the research farm of the University of Kassel (Hessische Staatsdomäne Frankenhausen). Calves of the contact-groups were allowed to enter the cows' barn for nine weeks after birth either 24 hours a day (permanent) or from morning milking to afternoon milking (half-day). Calves of the control group were separated from their dam at the first day after birth and were fed by bucket with a nipple. All cows were milked twice a day. Influence of the different systems on machine milk yield, milk composition, udder health, kicking off the milking clusters, calving interval and weight gain of the calves were analyzed.


Publications

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2012

Last updated on 2017-11-07 at 14:56