Researchers investigate if it is possible to keep dairy cows and their calves together in automatic milking systems
In an on-going research project at SLU in Uppsala some cows in the dairy herd at the The Swedish Livestock Research Centre are kept together with their calves in the beginning of the lactation. The aim of the project is to test if calves can be integrated in automatic milking systems (AMS). There is interest from farmers and consumers in keeping dairy calves with their dams but there is very little support from science on how to go about it.
Experiences from previous research suggest that cows that are kept with their calf are less likely to eject milk to the milking machine. If this is true, the loss of milk in the tank exceeds what the calf consumes. However, in the studies that have been published the management of the cows the very first days of lactation is not described in detail. We think that there are possibilities to enable milk ejection to both calf and milking machine and that the management routines the first days of the lactation may be important in this.