Wanted: dairy farmers’ views on cow-with-calf production system

A social scientist based at the James Hutton Institute is seeking the views of dairy farmers interested in running a ‘cow with calf’ production system in the UK.

The system involves keeping calves with their mothers for the first months of life, while milking the cows for commercial purposes. It can have animal welfare benefits as well as responding to consumer demand for different types of dairy production.

There are very few farms in the UK operating this system and a Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (KTIF) funded project, ‘Keeping Cow with Calf – Bringing Innovation to Dairying In Scotland’, aims to produce research on the economic, social, animal welfare and environmental aspects of this system.

Dr Orla Shortall, of the Institute’s Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences department, is running the survey and commented: “We would like to encourage farmers to take part in our research. The questions look a people’s motivation, what’s currently stopping them, and what would help them in the future.

“We hope that the data will inform future policy and help develop the right resources for farmers interested in operating the cow with calf system. There are very few farmers operating the system in the UK and as a result little research and advisory support.

“Our existing research suggests there’s a consumer market for milk produced in this way and it can provide rewards to the farmer, so part of the aim of the project is to support farmers interested in trialling the system.”

The survey takes 5 minutes to complete and can be found here: https://www.keepingcowwithcalf.com/survey. Respondents can sign up to the project mailing list to keep up to date of project results.


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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.