• Cow-calf-togetherness in organic dairy production   

When calves are separated from their mothers after only 24 hours, it results in a clear dilemma in organic milk production.

It is not in line with the organic principles, but has been an accepted practice through decades, especially for the sake of milk yield for human consumption. The dilemma has increasingly awakened the attention of consumers.

Swiss, Dutch, German and Scandinavian pioneers have through decades shown that it is possible to have calves together with dairy cows, but we know very little about how it might work under Danish production conditions.    

Purpose of the project

The Organic RDD project KALVvedKO examines various aspects of the dilemmas regarding weaning, as well as the pros and cons by letting the calves stay together with their mothers during the milk feeding period. KALVvedKo seeks to solve the dilemmas through research and development of new robust and innovative housing systems for Danish production.

The project wants to achieve knowledge on careful separation, housing arrangements and health promoting care, which will make the cow-calf-togetherness possible throughout the milk feeding period in a secure and sustainable manner for both cows, calves and humans – and with the highest possible yield in the form of healthy animals, high product quality of both meat and milk, as well as good economy and trustworthiness in relation to the organic principles. Simultaneously, the project will create a foundation for taking informed choices whether such systems would be a solution for milk producers.

Project period: 2019-2021

Learn about benefits and challenges of new cow-calf-togetherness systems In this film you can listen to experts and practitioners from the fields of organic farming, animal welfare and milk production talk about the experiences, benefits, and challenges combined with calves living together with their mothers.

Project leader

Mette Vaarst,
Department of Animal Science,
Aarhus University,
Blichers Allé 20, Postboks 50,
DK-8830 Tjele 
+ 45 22 90 13 44