Forst- und Lebensmittelwissenschaften HAFL, 3052 Zollikofen

Dealing with «surplus» calves in the mountain regions: A study from Grisons, Switzerland

There is a lack of information on how calves are dealt with in mountain regions. Livestock production is important in this agricultural zone and predominantly takes the form of Alpine transhumance. As part of this study, eleven managers of dairy and beef rearing enterprises in the Canton Grisons were interviewed on the issue of calf health. Their answers were analysed using Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB). The interviewees predominantly trade in calves at a regional level. Due to the system of summer pasturage the trade in calves is seasonal. Some of the interviewees describe a close cooperation between the dairy farms and beef producers. This involves the careful handling of artificially reared calves, thus supporting the calves’ health and limiting antibiotics use to individual animals. There is some room for improvement when it comes to individual management measures such as ad-libitum milk feeding or vaccinations of dams and calves. On the part of the dairy farmers there is weak implementation of these measures, due in part to the fact that there are hardly any incentives to do so. Knowledge alone is not the only decisive factor in this regard but also the farmers’ environment (colleagues, veterinarians, training). This is where changes in behaviour can either be fostered and supported or impeded.

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