Grazing Cows Live Longer

DENMARK - The more time cows spend grazing, the lower their mortality rate, according to new figures from a study carried out by scientists at Aarhus University.
calendar icon 18 July 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

Fresh air and exercise are good for your health and well-being. That goes not only for humans but also for cows. Recent results from Aarhus University show that cow herds have a lower mortality rate when the cows are allowed to graze on pastures compared to herds that must suffice with staying indoors all summer.

The results are based on figures from 391 farms collected via a database and questionnaires.

"The differences were greatest in herds with automatic milking systems (AMS). When cows on farms with AMS had the opportunity to graze, mortality was 54 per cent lower than on farms where the cows could not graze," says PhD student Elke Burow from the Department of Animal Science.

"In herds with traditional milking systems grazing reduced the mortality rate by 25 per cent."

Mr Burow also found that the reduction in mortality was influenced by how much time the cows spent in the pasture. When cows have access to pasture for a long time, the mortality was 42 per cent lower that on farms where the cows had only limited or no access to pasture.

The data do not indicate what the causes of death were, so it is not yet possible to point at specific reasons for the differences in mortality rates.

At the present, scientists at Aarhus University are investigating if grazing affects cow health and welfare and are looking into the possibilities for using various means to control grazing in the project ”Grazing – also a part of future dairy production”.

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