Consumers are starting to focus more and more on animal happiness when it comes to meat and dairy. Whether it’s ensuring that chickens are free-range or cows have access to more nutritious feed, quality of life is more and more of a selling point. This is good news for dairy farmers: not only can treating your animals well be a selling point that gives your or your buyer’s brand more power, their happiness and cow comfort actually impacts the quality of their milk production.
More and more studies are focusing on the importance of resting time, and having soft, accessible bedding is the best way to make sure dairy cows spend the optimal amount of time lying down. Cows need to rest approximately half the day. Not only does this reduce their stress and keep the entire herd’s behavior calm, it means cows on spending time ruminating and producing high-quality milk.
What are some suggestions to follow according to a recent Wisconsin initiative?
- Check your cows for leg pain and lameness. If you catch it early, you can find the underlying causes such as infection or some element of their environment and start treatment immediately.
- Feed cows at the same time if you have space for it. The initiative found that your herd will be happier if it gets to do things together. But only do this if you have enough space to feed them all safely; it’s better to feed them in groups than risk them getting aggressive or pushy in a tight feeding area.
- Regroup your cows. If you group by birthing time, then the cows try harder to establish a hierarchy, and that can create more stress.
There are a lot of different factors that go into cow happiness, and a lot of ways you can make small tweaks to your farm over time: whether it’s increasing stall size, changing bedding material, or monitoring your cows’ rest time, each of these changes contribute to your herd’s happiness and milk production. If you’re ready to change your cows’ bedding now, check out EasyFix Rubber Products North America’s selection here.