DAIRY farmers are being asked to take part in new research through the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation aimed at improving calf health and productivity.
Dr Angel Abuelo and Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover from Charles Sturt University’s (CSU) School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences are seeking support from farmers for an online survey to gain an overview of calf management practices in Australian dairies.
“We’re interested in finding out about when calves and cows are separated, how they are housed, and what, when, and how some management practices are applied, including vaccination,” Dr Abuelo said.
“Much of the information about best practice in dairy calf management is based on research carried out in Europe and North America, where there are very different production systems.
“We want to find out what happens in Australian dairy systems to identify areas where research and extension is needed to better develop and promote best practice for local conditions.”
Farmers and managers from all dairy regions are invited to complete the short online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/calvesAU
Researchers are also working with veterinarians to collect on-farm information about the quality of colostrum, the milky fluid produced by cows soon after giving birth, which plays a key role in developing a newborn calf’s immune system.
Dr Abuelo said researchers will examine colostrum, blood and faecal samples to learn more the quality and handling of colostrum, calf immunity and common pathogens affecting Australian dairy calves.
“Overall we want to improve the health of calves so they can grow into more productive cows, to benefit dairy production and farm profitability.”
The research is funded by a Graham Centre New Initiatives Grant.