The innovative approach to milking cows while they also feed their calves has captured the attention of Scottish farming researchers who are looking at the social, economic, welfare and environmental aspects of the system.
Three Scottish dairy producers are already leaving calves with their dams for five months, and now researchers at the James Hutton Institute (JHI) want to hear from other farmers or new entrants who are considering taking a similar approach.
The aim is to analyse the full economic costs of keeping cows with calves, finding markets for the product, and look at cow and calf health benefits and environmental impacts.
Dr Orla Shortall, of JHI’s social, economic and geographical sciences department, is running the survey and is asking farmers to get involved in the research.
She said: “The questions look at people’s motivation, what’s currently stopping them, and what would help them in the future.
“We hope that the data will inform future policy and help develop the right resources for farmers interested in operating the cow-with-calf system.
“There are very few farmers operating the system in the UK and as a result little research and advisory support.
“Our existing research suggests there’s a consumer market for milk produced in this way and it can provide rewards to the farmer, so part of the aim of the project is to support farmers interested in trialling the system.”
The project will establish how a cow-with-calf system performs in terms of human, animal, environmental and financial health.
It will consider calf growth, cow longevity, animal health and investigate which business models and marketing channels are available for cow-with-calf dairy products.
There will also be a guide for producers who choose to follow the system, with information on finances and animal health.
The survey is open until the end of the year and can be accessed here.