Name
Name ML Wenker MSc
FirstnameMargret
Emailmargret.wenker@wur.nl

Job details
DescriptionExterne medewerker
OrganizationWageningen Livestock Research
Organization UnitAnimal Health & Welfare
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Biography

As young researcher I want to contribute to the development of animal husbandry systems in which animals can express more natural behaviour without comprimising their health. By these means I hope to enhance the animal welfare of our livestock. In 2010 I started my BSc Animal Sciences in Wageningen. During my MSc Animal Sciences (WUR) I specialised in animal welfare and behaviour. For this, I participated in the exchange program Animal Welfare & Behaviour at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala. I conducted my master thesis at the Ethology and Animal Welfare Unit of ETH Zürich on the stress buffering effects of automated cow brushes during isolation of dairy cattle. In 2017 I started my PhD on the implications of cow-calf contact for dairy calf welfare. This research is part of the 'Kansen voor het Kalf in de Keten' project within the public-private research program 1Health4Food.


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The implications of cow-calf contact for calf health and welfare.

This project aims to more fundamentally understand the implications, both positive and negative, of cow-calf rearing for the health and welfare of dairy calves. The project will try to identify which cow-related factors (e.g. with respect to behaviour or microbiology) are most relevant for health and welfare of calves, and will examine strategies to mimic or implement these factors in dairy husbandry.

Central in this project are on-farm experiments comparing different rearing conditions involving variable levels of maternal contact, including no contact following separation from the dam directly after birth, only physical contact without access to the udder, and full contact including suckling the dam in the first 8 weeks of life.

The impact of these rearing treatments will be examined in terms of behavioural, physiological, immunological, and microbiological response parameters in growing calves until (early) adulthood. Calves are longitudinally followed-up from an early age until the beginning of first lactation (females), or until the end of the fattening period on a veal farm (predominantly male calves).

The knowledge obtained in this project will help to improve and innovate dairy calf rearing practices.

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