Suckler cow

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Herd of suckler cows in Mecklenburg , Germany
Calf with suckler cow in Frankenfels , Austria

A suckler cow is a female domestic cattle that is usually not kept for milk production , but rather raises its calf . This form of production is called suckler cow husbandry. If the suckler cow is suckling not only her own calf, but also another one, it is called nurse cow husbandry .

The calf sucks it on the udder of the cow to settle around the age of ten months. The cow, and the calf as it ages, feeds mainly on grass and hay.

Suckler cow husbandry is essentially used in more extensive locations, for example in areas with low yields and drought. It is also an alternative to agro-industrial meat production , since the animals stay on the same farm and with the suckler cow from birth to slaughter . In the event of fattening on your own farm, the advantage is that the animals do not have to change the farm and the weaning and feed changeover can be precisely controlled. In organic farming , where species-appropriate husbandry is particularly important, mother and foster cow husbandry is also attracting increasing interest in milk production. In Switzerland, the law is to be adapted so that milk from cows that are suckling their calves can also be marketed here.

Suckler cows are usually kept on pastures with their calves in summer . In winter, the cows in Central Europe are either kept in the barn with regular access to the open air or they also stay on the pasture (so-called robust housing).

In suckler cow husbandry , the time of calving is often set in autumn, winter or early spring in order to achieve the best possible growth performance for the calves from grass and to be able to use the calves accordingly. If the herd goes to the alp in summer, this also plays an important role in the timing of calving on a farm.

In Switzerland, suckler cow keepers are grouped together in the Suckler Cow Association. The number of suckler cows increased by 2.2% in 2019 compared to the previous year. The stocks have more than tripled since 1999. Since July 2020, suckler cow husbandry can also be used in milk production. The law was adapted accordingly.

Individual evidence

  1. Mother and foster parent calf rearing in dairy farming. (PDF; 3.1 MB) In: . 2018, accessed May 22, 2019 .
  2. This milk becomes legal. In: . March 12, 2020, accessed March 12, 2020 .
  3. Federal Statistical Office : The number of farms continued to decrease in 2019. Agricultural structure survey 2019. In: . May 11, 2020, accessed May 12, 2020 .
  4. Julia Hofer: Suckler cow husbandry: Here dairy cow and calf are not separated. In: . July 31, 2020, accessed August 27, 2020 .