Every time a cow takes a lame step or stands for a long period of time she’s sending a signal.
Farmers who read those signals and respond with efforts to improve cow comfort are rewarded with increased cow longevity and more profit in their pocket. That’s the return on investing in Cow Signals, according to Agribrands Purina Canadian dairy technical manager Amélie Mainville Nadon.
At the recent Canadian Dairy XPO in Stratford, Ont., Mainville Nadon took to the stage at the CDX dairy classroom to show farmers how they can utilize the Cow Signals program to evaluate how well they are observing and listening to their cows. Developed by veterinarian Joep Driessen, the program is now offered by Agribrands Purina, who draw on the talents of 28 Cow Signals master trainers to work with farm customers.
In this interview, Mainville Nadon explains that Cow Signals is based on assessing six freedoms that impact a cow’s health and production – water, air, light, space, rest, and feed. When it comes to rest, for example, Mainville Nadon explains that a typical cow will lie down nine hours a day. For each additional hour she lies down, up to a total of 14 hours, the cow can actually increase production by one litre per hour. That can put an additional five litres per cow, per day in the milk tank.
But to realize that return, farmers have to invest time and resources to read the signals. When farmers know how much time their cows are resting, they can then make the management decisions required to make stalls more comfortable and encourage cows to rest.
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