Professor Jim Reynolds has been touring the UK speaking to vets and farmers about the importance of calf and youngstock welfare.
An international expert on dairy welfare says excellent calf and youngstock welfare can be achieved by ensuring animals are thriving, not just surviving.
Jim Reynolds, a professor of large animal medicine and welfare at Western University of Health Sciences in California, was the key speaker at an Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) meeting in Cheshire, supported by VetPartners.
A series of one-day events were held at farms across the UK, including West Sussex, Leicestershire, Lanarkshire and Wiltshire. Prof Reynolds also spoke at the Animal Welfare Foundation annual discussion forum in London (5 June).
Prof Reynolds discussed the science behind calving, calf management and the transition phase, and he said it was important to treat animals with compassion, dignity and respect. He explained how welfare can be maximised by understanding and making use of animals’ natural behaviours.
He said: “A cow’s instinct is to hide her calf somewhere quiet and secluded, so she can go and eat, while the calf safely sleeps.
“We can take advantage of this by managing the separation of cow and calf during this window to minimise stress and anxiety, improving welfare.”
VetPartners’ support helped bring Prof Reynolds to the UK from the US. Bill May from LLM Farm Vets, part of VetPartners, said: “Conversations around health and welfare are important to ensure that we keep striving for improvements, and bringing in an international expert allows us to explore a familiar topic with new perspectives.
“It was great to hear Jim sharing his thoughts, as he kept it simple by reminding us that welfare is about animals’ emotions and doing things on-farm that make them happy – like providing enjoyable and nutritious food, careful handling, and overall treating them with respect.”