Annette Pontillo
Institute of Organic Farming

Trenthorst 32
23847 Westerau
Phone: +49 4539 8880 0
Fax: +49 4539 8880 120

Kontrollstellennr.: DE-ÖKO-006

Cow-calf contact in dairy farming - how does it work?


 (c) Thünen-Institut/OL

Development of guidelines to introduce cow-calf contact into dairy production

A standard procedure how to rear dairy calves by cows does not exist. Every farm has to find its own system. In future, we will support this process with a guideline.

Background and Objective

On dairy farms cow and calf are usually seperated shortly after birth and the calves are raised by bucket feeding or using  automatic milk feeders. Meanwhile more and more farmers get interested in raising systems that allow contact between cows and caleves and where cows nurse the calves for a longer period. Most of these farms are managed according to the standards of organic farming and every farm developed its own method of cow-calf contact.. Aim of the project is the development of a guideline that supports newcomers who intend to implement cow-calf contact on their farm. This guideline will also be fed by studies done at the farms involved in the project.


Eight dairy farmers participate in the project. Most of them practise cow-calf contact on their farms for years. Farmers' experiences will enter directly the guideline. Therefore farmers will met regularly conducting a stable school. In addition, data and samples will be collected by farmers themselves as well as by scientits to answer open questions. Animal welfare will be the main focus of the Thünen-Institiute in the project. Udder health, endoparasite infections of  pastured calves and weaning stress are the issues that will be especially addressed.

Links and Downloads

Further informations concerning cow-calf contact systems

Project website

Project: Milk & Calf

Project: Long-term effects of cow-calf-contact

Fact Sheet: Cow-calf contact in dairy farming - how does it work?


Involved Thünen-Partners

Involved external Thünen-Partners


2.2019 - 9.2022

More Information

Projekt type:
Funding program: EU - European Innovation Partnerships (EIP)
Project status: ongoing


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