Care4Cattle: Improving Weaning Methods

Janice Chow
Written by
Janice Chow

Care4Cattle Grant Recipient: Mateus Paranhos da Costa, Jaboticabal-SP, Brazil

Project: Assessment of short and long-term effects of different weaning methods on the well-being of beef cows and calves

Mateus Paranhos’ research into the effects varying weaning methods can have on well-being of beef cows and calves has seen him selected by a panel of independent experts as one of three recipients of the Bayer Care4Cattle grant.

"The project presented by Dr. Paranhos da Costa and his whole work combines scientific excellence with a very practical approach. It is an example of how good science can be put to the service of animal well-being and thus contribute to the sustainability of livestock production," says Care4Cattle jury member, Professor Xavier Manteca, who is with the Department of Animal and Food Science, School of Veterinary Science, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB).

Man petting a cow

The weaning practices that are considered standard or traditional in Latin America have been an area of concern when considering the well-being of cattle, because this process is potentially stressful for both cows and calves.

Paranhos explains why the improvement of these methods is important, saying: “The way that calves are usually weaned in Brazil can be stressful for both the animals involved in the process and their keepers. That is why we decided to address this subject and look for a better way to wean the beef calves."

“Our inspiration was the results of the scientific study carried out by Price and his colleagues in 20031. It motivated us to check if their methodology would fit well into Brazilian conditions, which are completely different from those where the study of Price and his colleagues was conducted.”

Care4Cattle Logo

Animal well-being and behaviour has long been a passion for Paranhos, who grew up working with cattle. His enthusiasm to learn more on the subject saw him studying animal science and behaviour throughout his time at university, resulting with him lecturing at the São Paulo State University and completing a post doctorate at the University of Cambridge.

Paranhos explains this passion, saying: “From the beginning of my professional activities at University I dedicated myself to looking for the solutions to practical problems faced by the cattle farmers. Due to this I developed extension projects, which are now recognized by most of the stakeholders in the Brazilian livestock production chains.”

Cows in high grass

Professor Mateus Paranhos will use his funding to further the study into the effects different weaning methods can have on the well-being of beef calves. By monitoring the weight gain of the calves throughout the varying methods, the study will be able to measure the impact of each method on the overall well-being of the calf.

Paranhos and his team believe that they have a better strategy to wean beef cattle calves; but there is still a need of fine adjustments and adaptations to the methodology used in different situations found in Brazil and other Latin American farms. Working closely with cattle farmers, the grant means that the team can now develop the research and spread the knowledge through extension initiatives including capacity building, lectures and field days.

Paranhos explains: “It is not easy to get funds for extension projects in Brazil; the Care4Cattle grant will allow us to refine this methodology of low stress beef cattle weaning and to spread the knowledge to livestock professionals involved with this handling procedure.”

About Care4Cattle

The Bayer Care4Cattle initiative offers livestock professionals a total grant funding of €30,000 and the opportunity to further advance dairy and beef cattle well-being on the farm. Three stand out projects deemed to have the potential to further enhance cattle well-being, were selected by a jury comprising of independent animal well-being experts, alongside representatives from the World Farmers’ Organisation and Bayer.

Find out more about Bayer’s commitment to animal well-being.

Janice Chow
Written by
Janice Chow