SRUC Launch ‘Keeping Cows With Calves’ Survey For Dairy Farmers

SRUC Launch 'Keeping cows with calves' Survey For Dairy Farmers
Researchers at SRUC are working with the Ethical Dairy to learn more about cow-with-calf dairy systems

Dairy farmers and new entrants interested in operating a cow-with-calf dairy system are invited to take part in a survey.

The survey, part of the project Keeping Cow with Calf: bringing innovation to dairying in Scotland, aims to find out people’s motivations and reservations about operating this type of system.

Traditionally, dairy calves are separated from their dams within 24 hours of birth, but this project – led by researchers at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) –  investigates the cow-with-calf system where calves are kept with their mothers for up to five months.

Currently, there are significant barriers to farmers considering running such a system, including understanding the full economic costs of keeping cows with calves, finding markets for the product, cow and calf health benefits and environmental outcomes.

The project is based around one of three Scottish farms running a commercial cow-with-calf system.

Funded through the SRDP Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund, it will create a network of farmers interested in operating cow-with-calf dairy systems and provide them with information and tools to help them adopt this system.

The project will establish:

  • How a cow-with-calf system performs in terms of human, animal, environmental and financial health
  • An economic analysis of the cow-with-calf system at a farm level; investigating calf growth, cow longevity, animal health and more
  • What business models and marketing channels are available for cow-with-calf dairy products
  • Creation of a prospectus for those looking to follow the system; pitfalls to note, finances, animal health considerations and more

The survey, which is open until the end of the year, will help researchers build the evidence base around cow-with-calf dairying systems and gauge what support farmers need to move to this practice.

For more information, or to complete the survey, visit: www.keepingcowwithcalf.com/survey