Thursday, August 22, 2019

Cow Signals workshop gives farmers the edge

July 31, 2018 by  
Filed under Livestock

special workshop due to be held in Lincolnshire this month aims to help dairy farmers better understand their cows and meet herd needs.

Organised by AHDB Dairy, the Cow Signals workshop will be held on 30 August at Home Farm, Spittle on the street, Market Rasen. It is the latest in a series of workshops to help improve dairy cow health and production.

Master trainer Rob Davies hosted the first Cow Signals workshop in mid-June. The meetings are designed to support AHDB’s optimal dairy systems programme which is helping farmers’ lower costs and increase efficiencies.

Behavioural signs

Mr Davies explained: “Cows always tell the truth. Understanding the signals they give out can help farmers manage stress and produce happier healthier cows who live longer and are less prone to disease.”

Small changes could help improve productivity, added Mr Davies. As well as explaining a cows’ physical and behavioural indications, the workshop included a practical session in the sheds where farmers could try out their observation skills.

Ideally, cows should spend 14 hours lying, six hours feeding, two hours socialising and two hours milking daily – doing little of each in two hour cycles. But poor ventilation, uncomfortable beds, lack of easy access to feed and water can all disrupt natural behaviour and cause stress.

Fresh perspective

Mr Davies said: “Farmers should focus on bedding and feed as this is where cows spend most of their time. It’s not always possible to make lots of changes at once so you have to think about what is going to have the biggest impact for the lowest cost.”

Dairy farmer Mark Wood, who attended the workshop, said: “A lot of what Rob said was common sense, but sometimes it helps look at things from a fresh perspective. A lot of little things can make a big difference and sometimes those little things need pointing out.

“The workshop has made me think about what to look at back at home. I’m definitely going to be looking at my feed barrier placement, to stop neck rubbing, which will hopefully improve feed intakes. I would also like to look at lighting and lux figures, to improve feed intakes even more”.

The Lincolnshire workshop will be hosted by trainer Lowri Davies and AHDB Dairy knowledge exchange manager Steve West. For full details, including booking information, please visit