Development of technical requirements for weaning of dairy calves after adequate milk feeding

Contact: PD Dr. Harald M. Hammon

Duration: 20232-2026

Funding: Bundesanstalt für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft

The project "OptiWean" intends to develop a computer-assisted feeding procedure for weaning calves after ad libitum milk feeding. The computer-based development is accompanied by studies on the adaptation of forestomach digestion to solid feed intake and on the development of the calves after weaning. By using automatic feeders, a process-controlled procedure will be developed that ensures a gentle transition from ad libitum milk feeding to solid feed intake without a drop in nutrient supply or a reduction in body substance during weaning. At the same time, such a procedure allows calves individually adapting their weaning from milk, which has an additional beneficial effect on the calves' well-being. The animals are followed up on performance and animal health beyond the weaning period. Computerized feeding technology will be tested on farms for practicality. In addition, data on feed intake, feeding behaviour and calf development will be used to develop a warning application that will give the farmer early indication of abnormal development or disease occurrence. The goal of the project is to develop animal-friendly weaning from milk, improve animal health and help farmers monitor animal health and welfare.