Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 

Happier cows could help industry’s employment issues

1 March 2013

Happier cows could be one solution to industry’s employment issues

With more and more dairy farm staff entering the industry from urban backgrounds an animal husbandry expert says there has to be more emphasis placed on stockmanship skills, which start with managers and owners having farm policies that put animal welfare first.

DairyNZ’s animal husbandry expert Chris Leach and farm dairying specialist Mel Eden share a passion for interpreting cow behaviour and helping farmers get “inside the cow’s head.” By understanding their animals, they say farmers will improve job satisfaction for farm staff, animal health and the bottom-line.

In March the two experts will present a workshop called ‘Interpreting cow behaviour’ to more than 300 dairying women at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in Nelson – most of them farm owners and managers.

Mr Leach said the workshop would at times take a light-hearted view on a serious subject that was relevant even if people didn’t handle stock themselves, because farm policy is what dictates practice.

“Understanding that a cow is hardwired as a prey animal, which makes it naturally fearful and influences how it sees and reacts to the world around it, is not only a fascinating subject - we can use that information to help us become better stock people and have happier staff and animals.

“Research shows that happy cows produce more milk and decrease farm working expenses. If a cow is stressed in the yard, her milk let down can be affected for as much as 30 minutes. If milk let-down is compromised the likelihood of her getting mastitis increases and stressful situations such as overcrowding in the yard or being forced down the race can contribute to lameness.

“So understanding and allowing for the speed and formation in which cows walk to the shed will improve cow flow into the bail area, the cows will be happier, there’ll be less dung and less kicking. If there is a reduction in those two things milking becomes less of a chore, your staff are going to be much happier and more likely to stay in the industry longer,” said Mr Leach.

Co-presenter Mel Eden is considered a guru on the subject, having travelled around the world advising on dairy shed design to improve animal welfare and production, and mastitis control. He has worked in South America and Fiji, and presented in Australia and the UK. He is an independent farm consultant and also works closely with DairyNZ on its Milksmart programme, which aims to improve the wellbeing of animals and people by creating greater milking efficiencies in New Zealand.

“Farmers don’t deliberately mistreat cows by not considering their behaviour and environment – it’s just that it’s not necessarily front of mind in terms of operating the business. Some of the changes farmers can make are so small but make a big difference to the entire milking experience for both animals and people.

“For example cows remember clothing, not people – so if you are doing a job that is going to cause discomfort or pain for the cow like calving, don’t wear the clothes you wear to the milking shed, or suddenly milking is going to be a fearful experience for the cow and a totally different experience for you,” said Mr Eden.

“The cow is a complex animal. Yes, it learns to do as it’s told but it doesn’t necessarily do it happily if it is not being treated well – and there are usually things that can be improved in its environment.

“Most importantly though we need to get inside our bovine business partner’s head because we have more and more staff joining us from urban areas that haven’t grown up with cattle. Understanding cow behaviour will make their jobs, and yours, a lot easier.”

The ‘Interpreting cow behaviour’ workshop will provide practical learning for taking back to the farm including understanding the principles of bovine behaviour, discussing tips for handling bulls and recognising unusual behaviour that requires closer attention.

The Dairy Women’s Network conference kicks off in Nelson on March 20 and 21, with a world-class line-up of speakers covering subjects as diverse as environmental constraints, time management and developing future leaders. The conference theme is ‘Taking down the boundary fences’.

A sampling of other speakers include Olympian Mahe Drysdale; Hon Jo Goodhew, Associate Minister for Primary Industries and Minister of Women’s Affairs; Hinerangi Edwards, Trustee Parininihi Ki Waitotara (PKW ) Farms Limited; and the international queen of time management, Robyn Pearce.

To learn more about the Dairy Women’s Network conference visit www.dwn.co.nz or phone 0800 396 748.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 


Commerce Commission: Mercury Cleared To Acquire Trustpower’s Retail Business

The Commerce Commission has granted clearance for Mercury NZ Limited to acquire Trustpower Limited’s retail business. Deputy Chair Sue Begg said the Commission is satisfied that the acquisition is unlikely to substantially lessen competition in any New Zealand market.... More>>



Consumer NZ: Buy-now, Pay-later Raking In $10m+ In Late Fees Annually

A Consumer NZ survey has found buy-now, pay-later services are costing shoppers more than $10 million a year in late fees. Close to four out of 10 Kiwi consumers use buy-now, pay-later services, such as Afterpay, Laybuy and Zip... More>>

Westpac: Catherine Mcgrath Appointed New Zealand CEO

Westpac Group CEO Peter King and the Westpac New Zealand Board today announced the appointment of Catherine McGrath as Chief Executive Officer, Westpac New Zealand... More>>


Statistics: Surge In Imports Results In Record Monthly Trade Deficit
Imports increased $1.8 billion in August 2021 compared with August 2020, resulting in a record monthly trade deficit of $2.1 billion, Stats NZ said today. Exports were little changed, down $42 million. "This is a larger deficit than normal because of higher values for imports.. More>>

Fonterra: Completes reset, announces annual results and long-term growth plan out to 2030

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced a strong set of results for the 2021 financial year, reflected in a final Farmgate Milk Price of $7.54, normalised earnings per share of 34 cents and a final dividend of 15 cents... More>>


Statistics: GDP rises in the June 2021 quarter

Gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 2.8 percent in the June 2021 quarter, following a 1.4 percent increase in the March 2021 quarter, Stats NZ said today. June 2021 quarter GDP was 4.3 percent higher when compared with the December 2019 quarter... More>>