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Why is the dam rearing method needed?
In Switzerland the dam rearing method in dairy production is hardly known. In over 99% of cases, calves are separated from their mothers shortly after birth and often individually kept in calf igloos. To complicate matters, today’s organic labels provide hardly any specifications regarding the rearing of calves. The separation of mother and calf is – for example – also allowed among labels like Bio and Demeter. But beside the ethical responsibility towards the animals, there are also advantages of dam rearing methods for the consumer. For example: by suckling on the dam’s udder the calf receives the necessary antibodies to build its immune system. This leads to healthier calves and less antibiotic use.
Dairy cows are loving and devoted mothers, as shown in this video:
What does dam rearing mean exactly?
There is no official definition for the dam rearing method yet. For mu-ka.ch, dam rearing means that all calves can suckle from their mother twice a day for a minimum of one month and can spend time with her. Our approach should not be confused with the foster mother cow approach, where the newly born calves are separated from their mother and fed by another cow, the foster cow. We are also not referring to the suckler cow husbandry applied in the meat industry. These calves stay with their mothers without the mothers being milked.
Dam rearing methods are a topic abroad as well
In Germany there exists a designated list of farms that apply the dam rearing method. However, that list does not exclusively include farms applying the dam rearing method but farms applying foster cows husbandry as well. This is specified in the description: Link
In other countries there are also various projects and initiatives for dam rearing methods. We have put together a list which can be seen below:
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