The Royal Agricultural University Calf Rearing Centre of Excellence advocates best practice, improved welfare and disease prevention for the dairy beef rearing sector. This collaborative project which is partnered by Buitelaar Production Ltd and Synergy Farm Health and has a Steering Board comprising of crucial industry players, Morrisons and McDonald’s is driving a new outlook for dairy beef calf rearing in the UK.
The Centre was set up in order to communicate best practice and provide a knowledge exchange platform for students and farmers as well as carry out applied research projects. The RAU is currently working on three projects in order to answer key research and practice challenges.
Applied commercial research is being undertaken in order to address the issue of antibiotic treatment. This trial is looking at alternative measures to using conventional metaphylactic treatment. Preliminary results suggest that overall antibiotic usage can be reduced up to 48% through the combined oral use of anti-inflammatory (salicylic acid -aspirin) and antibiotic. This trial is currently being replicated to ensure validity.
Systems approach research is also being undertaken in collaboration with the Countryside and Community Research Institute. This project will investigate the dairy beef rearing industry nationally through farmer and industry participatory approaches, in order to suggest policy and governance to promote calf rearing with high health and welfare status.
The RAU is also working under AHDB in order to review the current knowledge base relating to artificial rearing of calves entering the beef supply chain from the dairy herd.