SmartCalfCare is a pilot project (2019-2020) started after a group at the Agriculture’s Innovation Camp on Animal Welfare 2019 won with their idea which they called “SmartCare”.
The primary goal is to develop and test a prototype of SmartCC – a flexible and electronically controlled pen solution for modern loose stalls where the dairy cow can visit her calf. The solution is established, tested and observational studies are being conducted at the Animal Production Experimental Centre at Ås in 2019 and 2020.
SmartCC will have a calf hide for the calves, where the calves will have a soft and warm lying area, access to milk and concentrates from automatic feeders as well as free access to roughage and water. Next to the calf hide there will be a common cow-calf-area where the cow will enter a gate to visit her calf. The cow has a transponder in her ear tag and the farmer should be able to control the cow’s access to SmartCC via an app on his smartphone. The farmer should thus be able to decide which cows can enter the calves, as well as when and how often they may enter. A cow with a young calf can get to visit her calf as often as she wants. When the calf independently consumes both milk and concentrates from the automatic feeders the calf will be ready for less frequently visits from the cow. In this way, the cow and the calf are getting used to being away from each other and can be separated in a gradual manner for minimum stress. After each time the cow has visited her calf, she returns to the other cows.
SmartCC meets immediate needs for future dairy farming: Animal welfare in general and cow calf togetherness.