Dairy Cow Comfort
Why is dairy cow comfort important?
Cow comfort plays a critical role in productive and profitable dairy management. Happy cows produce more milk and tend to live longer, healthier lives. There are many benefits to cow comfort, as happy cows also commonly experience decreased stress levels and an increased appetite, as well as fewer health issues and injuries.
How to improve cow comfort: Environmental considerations
- Ventilation: The goal of ventilation is to provide fresh air uniformly throughout the barn. Proper ventilation involves moving outside air into the shelter through a vent system and evenly distributing it. Incoming air mixes with contaminants, such as dust, moisture and pathogens, and is discharged.
- Cooling: Cows often struggle to cool themselves during periods of high heat and humidity. As a result, the cow's core body temperature will typically rise, thereby triggering decreased milk production, a diminished appetite and increased respiration. The use of sprinklers, soakers and fans is recommended.
- Stalls: Whether you have a freestall or tie-stall setup, cows should spend most of their time eating, milking or lying down. Getting cows to spend more time in their stalls is one of the most controllable aspects of cow comfort and may be increased by making sure the stalls are kept clean and are bedded correctly and appropriately sized.
- Lighting: Long-day lighting is a simple and well-proven technique for increasing milk production and profitability. According to the University of Kentucky, cows given a long-day photoperiod increased their milk production by up to 10% compared to cows provided natural lighting.
- Flooring: This element is important but is often overlooked. Remember that cows housed in modern freestall barns often spend more than10 hours per day on their feet. Comfortable, dry footing is a must.
For more information on how you might improve cow comfort on your farm, contact our dairy cow comfort experts.