Making your dairy cows comfortable for more milk production
Don’t you love coming home after a long day and laying down in your nice soft bed? Well just like humans, cows do too!
The reason for this is that the more comfortable they are, the more milk they produce. When cows lay down, blood flow to their mammary glands increases 20-25 percent, which increases milk production and nutritional efficiency. If a cow has a comfortable place to lay, she will lay down for upwards of 50 percent of her day! Even small changes in laying time can drastically affect milk production. Creating the perfect atmosphere to keep the cow calm and comfortable can make all of the difference.
Cows also need half of their daily feed available to them as soon as they exit the milking parlor. If they have to wait for feed, you have missed the greatest chance for them to get a full meal. They will eat and then rest for 6 to 8 hours. You want them making milk with a full ration when they rest. For every extra hour of lying time, a cow produces more milk.
The success of dairy management is focused on the ABCs: Air quality, bunk management and cow comfort.
Talking about cow comfort involves listening to and understanding numerous opinions on this issue. But what is real cow comfort? How can it be judged? And maybe even more importantly, how can it contribute to profitable dairy farming?
Recently researchers and producers have put more attention on creating a comfortable environment for dairy cows and their replacements. Observation and experience show that cows housed in a comfortable environment produce more milk and generally live healthier, longer lives.
Cows can’t explain what makes them comfortable. But we can observe and measure cow activity, behaviour and environment – then correlate our observations with what appear to be comfortable cows.
The most comfortable milking system in the world can not be efficient if your cows are not comfortable.
- Animal signs: see, listen and feel the cow and judge whether she is healthy or not. Find more related information in Animal signs.
- Body condition score (BCS): score your cows according to a standardised score method on body fat in relation to lactation stage.
- Locomotion score: score the lameness of your cows according to a standardised scoring method. This will help to identify potential problems before a cow becomes obviously lame.
Checking all three areas gives valuable data on your herd health to help you decide which areas of your dairy operation need to be adjusted or can be improved on. Enhancing cow comfort will improve your bottom line.