Cluster Calf Study – Farmers input needed!

Cluster Calf Study – Farmers input needed!

The survey on “management and feeding of dairy calves” will be open for 2 more weeks. We encourage dairy farmers to take the opportunity to share your experiences. Your participation is greatly appreciated! Take the online survey here.

The Dairy Research Cluster calf study entitled, Innovative feeding and best management practices for the very young dairy calf to improve calf performance, welfare, and future productivity aims to develop recommendations for the feeding of neonatal calves, the management of group-housing for milk-fed calves, and methods for weaning calves off milk that optimize calf growth and welfare, and reduce labour costs. The objectives are to:

  1. Determine whether calf performance in the postnatal period can be used to predict overall pre-weaning calf performance;
  2. Develop feeding and management practices for the first days of a calf’s life to promote milk intake and growth;
  3. Determine optimum methods of introducing calves into groups and preparing them for group-housing with automated feeders;
  4. Examine feeding patterns on automated feeders to identify best practices for setting the feeder to ensure optimal milk intake and growth; 
  5. Examine advantages of adjusting weaning age to each calf’s individual intakes of solid feed in maintaining weight gains and reducing hunger and cross-sucking;
  6. Examine producers’ experience with automated feeders for un-weaned calves, and identify management practices most associated with success; and
  7. Develop a practical low-cost method of outdoor group housing system using calf hutches that allows for a more flexible feeding management.

These will allow producers to profit from the advantages of increased milk feeding and group-housing of un-weaned dairy calves.

Cluster Calf Study featured on La Semaine Verte

On March 14th the Radio-Canada TV show, La Semaine Verte, featured the work of Drs. Elsa Vasseur and Renée Bergeron on calf management. The program showed the positive work and investments farmers are making in research to find the best animal care approaches to calf management. View the program online here (French only).

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