A cow and her calf, the two go together like mother u. Child. That’s also the opinion of german eco-farmer Mechthild Knoesel:
“I wanted to give the cow the relationship with her calf back.” Knoesel is farmer on Hofgut Rengoldshausen, a Farm situated at Lake Constance, with a group of producers with farming and animal husbandry. There she cares about 50 dairy cows and their offspring. The mother bonded calf rearing works for nine years where she successfully operates. Mechthild Knoesel: “Especially during the first weeks calves are very unstable. Therefore, I let mother and calf stay together for all the time, during the first three weeks of their life. The calf can drink as often and as much as it wants, so it develops as healthy as possible. After the three weeks it is stable, and the cow is allowed to return to the flock for a few hours. The next three months the calf will be allowed to stay twice a day for one hour with the mother. It sucks just ten minutes, then it’s full. And cow and calf have time to cuddle and lick. Then it’s also good again, the gate opens and the cow goes out. “The calves go back
to their” calves- Kindergarden”, and the rest of the milk can be milked, as usual. Mechthild Knoesel: “Always before milking the cows, the calves were left to them. Everything happens in the group. The group is jumbled colorful from the first until the fourth month. Only after four months I separate the calves by gender and age into different groups. The ‘girls’, who came simultaneously with the world, remain together. Later, they also get the same time their first calf, suckle together and get milked together. That’s great! For me, the mother bonded rearing is essential for animal welfare.” The calves show hardly no pain of separation, says Knoesel. “But the pain is for the cows individually. There are cows who suffer silently, others suffer noisy, there is everything in between. The worst that can happen is that a cow is crying out loudly one night. But that is not the rule. And for me is the mother bonded rearing significantly appropriate to the species. Although the mothers suffer for animal welfare short time, I wouldn’t liketo withhold this tie from them. By the mother bonded rearing the circle is closed. The calves that are raised like this, make themselves even better as mother’s. They are quiet, as if they know how it works. Also there is no abrupt separation, they are gradually weaned from each other.” The mother is weaned over five days after the first three months. She can see her calf at this time only once a day. The calf then takes the second meal from a “nurse”. Where the nurse by herself is mother of a calf and this suckling anyway. Mechthild Knoesel: “The own calf of course gets it the best place but another is allowed to drink as well. The calves are from the beginning very flexible and based around. “The calves are less stressed and more active, they are socially competent and learn a lot from their mothers. Unfortunately only few farmers operate the mother bonded rearing. Knoesel thinks it is underexplored: “We know too little about it. When I did my masters work, I have tried some solutions. I had three groups: a nurs- and a mother bonded group and a group that was brought up with the bucket. The result: The growth and health in the mother bonded calves group has topped everything. When raising the bucket, however, there were many health problems, the calves often had diarrhea.” The interview with Mechthild Knoesel is from the World Animal Society WTG.
The dairy industry is in crisis. There is too much milk on the market. Would Knoesels model of mother bonded dairy animal economy improve the situation? For many breeds there are animal welfare guidelines for cattle not. The World Animal Society calls these guidelines for the protection of animals for cattle; in a petition on their side, you can help.
b)The Green Party now signalise also a desired change in animal welfare with its recently published “Pact for fair livestock“. It is a political document, but good. It remains to be seen what it is like and when it is going to be implemented.