IRL UK: INT

COW COMFORT 101 WITH MARTIN KAVANAGH

10 Oct
2019

In order to understand the needs of the dairy cow, we ensure that our staff and indeed our dealers who represent us worldwide receive regular expert training and practical advice on how to create a comfortable and productive environment for any herd. Most recently, our team received a very informative lecture from Martin Kavanagh. Mr Kavanagh is a qualified vet, Cow Signals Master Trainer & Herd Health consultant with over 20 years of experience. Continue reading for our key take aways.

 

COW COMFORT IS THE KEY TO A PRODUCTIVE HERD

A dairy cow has 3 main functions.. 1. to be milked, 2. to eat and finally to lay down and rest! On average cows can spend up to 4 hours being milked, between 6-9 hours eating and between 12-14 hours resting varying on the cow’s environment.  The more comfortable the cow is, the more time they will send resting, which ultimately should be the main goal of any housing system.  The more time a cow spends resting, the more milk they will produce!

‘Anything that restricts lying and feeding time will contribute to increased lameness, reduced rumen health and reduced performance. Meeting time budgets for rest increases milk yields and reduces lameness’ (Espejo, 2007, Matzke,2003)

 

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Did you know that 70% of a cow’s day revolves around eating and resting? Therefore, it is up to you as a farmer to ensure that your housing system is fit for purpose. In order to create a comfortable housing facility for your cows, you must ensure that they have access to the 6 freedoms of the pasture within their barn.

 

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HOW TO INCREASE LYING TIMES?

In order to ensure your cows are lying for optimum periods of time, you must take the following factors into consideration:

  1. Lunge space limitations – the positioning of the cow’s head is key to their confidence. They need to feel that they have enough space to lay down and get up with ease. The positioning of the neck rails on cubicles can assist with creating enough space to lay down with greater ease. The use of a brisket board also greatly assists cows with laying down squarely and correctly.
  2. Lack of cushion/soft and comfortable bedding – cows are intelligent animals! They will not lay in a cubicle if it does not have a comfortable bed!

 

The EASYFIX Dairy Housing System is unrivalled in terms of providing the ultimate in cow comfort! The EASYFIX Dream cubicle teamed with the EASYFIX Jupiter F mattress is the perfect combination to ensure your cows spend the maximum time resting. The revolutionary EASYFIX Cubicle delivers the freedom of the outdoors-indoors and is proven to maximize cow comfort, improve safety & enhance performance. The EASYFIX Jupiter F boasts a unique and innovative design! Incorporated within the design is an integrated brisket board at the front of the mattress and pillows on each side. This is a ‘world first’ feature unique to EASYFIX. It ensures optimum positioning of the cow when lying in the cubicle. The top of the mattress is cushioned which prevents hock damage and leg injuries. A studded bottom profile provides maximum cow comfort, with a deflection of up to .89 of an inch. The back of the mat is smooth and slopes away from the mat to ensure animal waste is pulled away from where the cow lays. THE DREAM COMBINATION!

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HOW TO REDUCE STRESS AT THE FEED FENCE & INCREASE FEED INTAKES?

When cows are not resting, they should be eating! Feeding time can be stressful for cows, as the more dominant and competitive personalities within the herd can ‘bully’ their way ahead of the submissive cows. Installing the correct type of feed fence in your shed can greatly assist with reducing stress in cows, whilst increasing feed intakes. A bad feed fence design can lead to lameness as the cow will push forward, against the fence, to access the feed which puts a lot of pressure on their legs.

Our latest innovation is the EASYFIX Evolve! The award-winning Evolve feed fence is a pioneering advance in animal feed systems, that optimizes animal welfare & performance. It is designed to extend the animal’s reach whilst allowing for increased feed intake. The unique design also provides safe access and egress for farmworkers.

Benefits of the EVOLVE include:

  • The open system allows essential head movements during feeding and more natural feeding behaviour
  • Provides better access to feed due to the increased reach of animals = enhanced feed intake.
  • Eliminates injuries and marks which are traditionally associated with steel barriers
  • Reduces stress

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