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Agroscope is the Swiss centre of excellence for agricultural research, and is affiliated with the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG). Agroscope makes an important contribution to a sustainable agriculture and food sector as well as to an intact environment, thereby contributing to an improved quality of life.

Journal Article

Journal article

Optimisation of milk yield in mother-bonded calf rearing - can the calf's odor help?  [2011]

Barth, K., Bundesforschungsinstitut fuer laendliche Raeume, Wald und Fischerei(vTI), Westerau (Germany); Wilke, K.; Haeussermann, A.; Hillmann, E.; et al.

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Mother-bonded calf rearing, in which cows not ony suckle their calves for longer periods of time but are also milked mechanically, is increasingly being discussed as an animal-friendly rearing process. Previously, however, the inhibition of the milk-ejection reflex during machine milking was one of the impediments to a broader use of this form of rear-ing. We therefore tested whether placing before a cow a cloth used earlier to rub her own calf could counteract inhibition of the let-down response during machine milking of the said cow. For this, 17 cows were left in the calving box on their own with their calves over a period of 5 days PP. The cows were then brought back to their herd, and the calves were given access to the cows' resting cubicle with exercise pen as well as having virtually unrestricted contact with their mothers (Kp). A control group (K0) was formed by separating the calves of a further 19 cows from their mothers after birth and artificially rearing them. The cows in both groups were milked twice daily in all cases. In the 4th week of lactation the calves were rubbed down with cloths, which were then stored individually in screw-top jars. Starting with the afternoon milking after the sample was obtained, either a cloth with the scent of her own calf or a cloth with no calf scent was placed before each of the cows for four milking sessions. The other alternative was used in the subsequent four milking sessions. Milk-flow curves were recor
ded, and a sample of the overall milking was taken.[...]Placing the cloth with the scent of her own calf before the cow had no demonstrable significant effect on MFC or milk-composition.parameters. Unfortunately, it was not poss-ible to objectively test whether the cloths with and without the calf's scent truly differed enough in terms of an olfactory intensity perceptible to the cows. The question as to whether the animals react to an olfactory stimulus with milk ejection can therefore not be answered conclusively, and requires further investigation.

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ART-Schriftenreihe (Switzerland)

ISSN : 1661-7584