RUSSIA - Barn layout and design are instrumental in a six point plan for healthy cows, a cow longevity conference heard in Siberia last week.
A recipe for ensuring your cows have three to five lactations each hinges on feed, water, light, air, rest and space, all linking into one thing – health.
Speaking at the DeLaval event in Tyumen, veterinarian Nico Vreeburg, senior consultant at Vetvice in the Netherlands, gave a checklist of what a herd needs to hit a target of between 30,000 and 50,000 litres per cow life.
“There are four corner stones of a good system,” Mr Vreeburg told the conference. “Cow comfort is first, labour efficiency is another, the plans need to be simple and solid and expandable and changeable.”
Free movement of cows is paramount, he explained. Cows need to go through the cycle of resting, drinking and going to the feed bunker spontaneously ten to 12 times each day.
To facilitate movement, passage ways should be at least 3.6 metres wide, with heifers, low ranking cows and “problem” animals factored into plans.
At the feed bunk, the right feed should be available to every cow at least 20 hours every day, with ample room for cows to feed.
“Less meals per day means more trouble with ruminal acidosis,” said Mr Vreeburg, who also stressed the link between minutes spent feeding each day and the onset of endometritis.
Resting time should be around 12 hours a day and this is ensured with appropriately proportioned stalls. Well-rested cows produce more milk through having fewer health issues, research shows.
When treating cows, Mr Vreeburg suggests the Rule of one should be applied: “take one cow for one minute with one person in one treatment box and treat her correctly once.”
Cow longevity 2015
Access videos and photos from the conference by clicking here.