Collaboration in long-term project: Blueprint for rearing youngstock

30 July 2018

Calves are the dairy cows of the future and, when raised successfully, can reduce your environmental impact, lower costs, and lead to more sustainable dairy cows, to name a few advantages. To ensure that every livestock farmer can properly rear their calves, HAS University of Applied Sciences (based in ‘s-Hertogenbosch) joined forces with Vetvice, FrieslandCampina, MSD Animal Health Nederland, CalfOTel, Agrifirm, and Nutrifeed to launch the project 'Blueprint for rearing youngstock’ (Blauwdruk jongveeopfok).

Ensuring that calves are reared as effectively as possible is an investment for the future, which is why it’s important to have a close look at this extremely important stage in a cow's life. Smart working practices carried out in the best possible conditions are the cornerstone of successful calf rearing. But this requires knowledge. The long-term project entitled ‘Blueprint for rearing youngstock’ aims to improve calf rearing in dairy farming by developing and testing a blueprint that is supported by best practices and can be used by dairy farmers and consultants.

The project consists of a practical study into the real-life application of the scientific insights of how to most effectively rear calves. Students at HAS University of Applied Sciences in 's-Hertogenbosch will conduct research for two years at different stages of the calf's life, from birth until they become a first-calf heifer. During each phase, the researchers will focus on housing, climate, food, hygiene, animal health management, and labour.

The research is guided by a draft blueprint that has been drawn up by students together with advisors from the participating partners. The concept will be tested and refined as part of the research. Students will take stock of and analyse the current working method of participating livestock farmers on the basis of the blueprint and then formulate appropriate advice together with these farmers.

The results of the study – a blueprint of best practices – will be compiled and made available to dairy farmers, livestock farmers, and agricultural consultants. The project will run from 2016 to the beginning of 2019. 

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