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Dairy industry representatives welcomed to calf rearing knowledge exchange event

Posted 16 November

“It’s vitally important that academia and industry work together, tackling the problems of today, while creating the possibilities for tomorrow.  This event highlighted how we need the right people to be doing the right things for calves to ensure the future sustainability of the dairy herd."

Taking part in the day were, from left - Dr Philip Robinson, Harper Adams University; Dr Mette Vaarst, Aarhus University; Dr Laura Palczynski, Innovation for Agriculture; Karen Halton, Halton Farms; Dr Emma Bleach, Harper Adams University; and Dr Ginny Sherwin from the University of Nottingham.

Taking part in the day were, from left - Dr Philip Robinson, Harper Adams University; Dr Mette Vaarst, Aarhus University; Dr Laura Palczynski, Innovation for Agriculture; Karen Halton, Halton Farms; Dr Emma Bleach, Harper Adams University; and Dr Ginny Sherwin from the University of Nottingham.

A strong turnout of stakeholders from across the dairy industry have attended a dairy calf rearing knowledge exchange event at Harper Adams University.

They joined Harper Adams and Harper & Keele Veterinary School students and staff for the day, hosted by the School of Sustainable Food and Farming – with dairy farmers, vets, nutritionists, youngstock advisors, vet techs and other industry representatives listening to talks and taking part in interactive discussions focussed on dairy calves.

The main purpose of the event was to discuss aspects of calf rearing that remain challenging, and to offer inspiration and support for farmers and their advisors to prioritise and bring about meaningful change.

The overall aim was to motivate and equip dairy producers with the knowledge and skills to improve their farm businesses.

Presentations were delivered by researchers from Harper Adams University, Innovation for Agriculture, University of Nottingham and Aarhus University in Denmark, while the audience also heard from a Cheshire dairy farmer - Karen Halton - who described her journey into farming and strategic approach to calf rearing.

Aarhus University’s Dr Mette Vaarst provided a Danish perspective for the event, based on her academic research with those caring for calves. She emphasized the value of examining calf rearing culture and practice from multiple angles, including historical, artistic and social dimensions, while also considering different husbandry systems.

The talks were followed by a series of lively discussions, with the panel facing questions on issues such as colostrum management, feeding protocols and calf health.

Event organiser Dr Philip Robinson, Head of the Department of Animal Health, Behaviour and Welfare at Harper Adams, said: “I found it fascinating to hear five very different presentations which looked at calf rearing from various perspectives and yet had a common thread emphasizing the important influence people have on successful outcomes for calves in terms of health, welfare and productivity.

“It’s vitally important that academia and industry work together, tackling the problems of today, while creating the possibilities for tomorrow. 

"This event highlighted how we need the right people to be doing the right things for calves to ensure the future sustainability of the dairy herd."

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