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Report, 1996

Mjölkproduktion med diande kalvar

Örtendahl, Malin


On dairy farms the tradition are to take the calf away from its mother directly after birth and bucket feed it. This model often leads to abnormal behaviours of the calves. To make the environment for the animals better and to ensure that the consumers get a product that is produced in an ethical way, the calves could be allowed to suckle. This work includes a summary of literature that deals with natural behaviour of cattle and effects of allowing the calf to suckle. It also includes own studies made on Ekenäs ecological farm, near Flen, where they allowed the dairy calves suckle. The calves suckle their own dam for the first three weeks and thereafter unfamiliar cows up to ten weeks of age. The studies were made during the autumn 1995. The aim of this study was to describe how the cows and calves behaved in this system and its effects on growth, udder health and milk production, identify problems and suggest changes. Behavioural observations were made on six calves and their damd during the first and the 12:th day after they were moved from their individual calving pen to the early lacting cow group (HG) in the uninsolated barn. After three weeks together with their own dam in the HG the calve was separated from its mother and moved to a group of cows that were in the end of their lactation (LG). The calves were studied the first and 7:th day in this group. The calves were weighed regularly and their mothers were control milked during the period. In HG almost every suckling was in the opposite parallel position. They suckled on average 6,25 times/19 h and each suckling bout lasted on average 6,4 min. In HG the dam initiated more suckling bouts than did the calf but the calves terminated more suckling bouts. In LG the calves suckled 9,8 times/19 h and the calves initiated all of the suckling bouts. When the suckling bout ended it was difficult to see if it was the aggression of the cow that finally got the intended effect or if the calf was satisfied The number of attempts (initiations that never led to a suckling bout) was higher in LG than in HG and more of them ended because of the cows aggressive behaviour against the calf. In HG there was only one cross-suckling (the calf suckled an alien cow) and that lasted only for 4 minutes. In LG the calves suckled on several cows. The cows produced on average 11,1 l/ day when the calves were together with them and suckled and 19,5 l/day after the separation. The daily weight gain of the calves was 627 g in HG and 854 g in LG. The conclusions of the study is that it was peaceful in HG but very restless in LG therfore it is suggested to have all lactating cows in one group resulting in that the calves can suckle the dam until weaning. In this way there would be less transfer of animals, more peaceful groups and less disturbed suckling bouts.


kor; kalvar; diande; beteende

Published in

Rapport - Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Institutionen för lantbruksteknik
Publisher: Institutionen för lantbruksteknik, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet

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