How dairy farmers can improve profitability and animal health
With increased knowledge and smart technical solutions, the dairy equipment provider DeLaval can help cows feel better. This leads to better profitability for the farmer and the reduced use of antibiotics.
The key to sustainable and profitable milk production is healthy and happy cows. As a result animal welfare has grown to be one of DeLaval’s most important areas. The company provides milking and feeding equipment in over 100 countries today.
”The conditions for dairy farmers are difficult now. It’s very important that they work to make sure their naimals are healthy and feeling good and through that, create profitability,” says Charlotte Hallén Sandgren, Dairy Development Director at DeLaval.
”The conditions for dairy farmers are difficult now. It’s very important that they work to make sure their animals are healthy and feeling good and through that, create profitability,”
Hallén Sandgren is a veterinarian and has previously worked for the Swedish Dairy Association. A large part of her work today revolves around how DeLaval can help dairy farmers prevent costly diseases through education and providing technical solutions that allow the cows to live and feel better.
”Good animal welfare that is long-term, profitable and ensures that the animals are feeling good is about more than just providing a good environment. It’s about being one step ahead. A farmer needs to be able to quickly notice potential problems and take care of them before they become a problem for the animal. There have been incredible developments in the field of ’precision dairy farming.’ In principle, this means that you can use sensors in different ways to understand how the animals are feeling. DeLaval is very active in this area,” she says.
"Good animal welfare that is long-term, profitable and ensures that the animals are feeling good is about more than just providing a good environment. It’s about being one step ahead."
At DeLaval a wide assortment of products have been developed to help farmers monitor their cows' individual health. The products include everything from the advanced milk analysis tool Herd Navigator, that helps farmers discover diseases in the cows through milk analysis, to completely automated image-analysis systems that help farmers know the cow’s body fat percentages. Additionally, they have developed management programs that collect all data from individual cows and entire herds to give farmers a better opportunity to evaluate the health and wellbeing of their herd.
According to Charlotte Hallén Sandgren, these kind of technical developments are going to be more important for farmers who want to continue production in a hard-pressed market. Additionally, several of the solutions can help reduce the need for antibiotics in the dairy industry and thereby reduce the prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
New technology to fight infections
Perhaps the biggest problem, both when it comes to the cow's health, the farmer's profitability and the use of antibiotics is mastitis. Mastitis is the most common disease on dairy farms and one of the main reasons for using antibiotics on cows.
”It’s regarded as the most costly disease since it attacks that organ (udders) that produces the product that we make a living from as farmers. I would dare to be so bold as to say that we are the world-leader when it comes to innovating technologies in this area, not least when it comes to different teat-dips that protect the udder from bacterial attack and thereby prevent mastitis,” says Charlotte Hallén Sandgren.
"I would dare to be so bold as to say that we are the world-leader when it comes to innovating technologies in this area."
With DeLaval’s sensors and with the milk analysis tool Herd Navigator, farmers can also show early warning signals that the cows are on their way to becoming infected by the disease and can take the necessary steps. Those using these tools have shown a drop in the use of antibiotics and also a reduction of wasted milk, due to the lack of antibiotics in the cows.
”The information can be used by the farmers themselves to see if this is an animal that should be treated medically or not.”