Methodology for experimental and observational animal studies in cow-calf contact systems
In this Research Reflection we describe a common standpoint on suitable methodology for controlled and observational studies in cow-calf contact systems in dairy production Different methods to assess behaviour, health and production in cow-calf contact systems are outlined. Knowledge and experience from researchers working in this field supplement scientific literature whenever relevant. Specific methods including study design, early behaviour of cow and calf, social behaviour relevant to cow-calf contact systems, human-animal relationships and aspects related to management (milking, weaning and separation, health) are reviewed, and recommendations formed. We expect that this paper can contribute to a better understanding of the complexity of cow-calf contact systems and help to advance research in this area of dairy production.