Animal welfare is key at Hamra Farm

The wellbeing of the animals at Hamra Farm has always been the number one priority for Linda Thulin, Herd Manager, and her team. Here she shares how they work to ensure good animal welfare at the farm.

Happy cows at Hamra farm

Animal welfare is vital at any high producing dairy farm, the same goes for Hamra Farm, DeLaval´s own commercial farm. At Hamra the team works every day to make sure the cows have the right conditions and are handled in the best possible way. Everyone who knows Linda, knows that she has a deep interest in animal welfare and it shines through when she talks about what she loves the most – her cows.

One of the focus areas for making Hamra Farm more sustainable is to increase cow longevity. “Most farmers are aware of the benefits of working with animal welfare to increase the productive lifetime of their cows. The question often is how to make it happen in practice,” says Linda. “At Hamra, we focus on keeping a well-balanced recruitment rate in the herd, ensuring an animal friendly environment with access to nutritious feed and clean water. Other activities to keep our cows healthy are based on their individual needs for example, trimming their claws, keeping their teats in good condition, providing a cow brush and foot bath. In addition, we also believe it is important to have an effective milking process with cell analysis to identify potential problems already at an early stage.

Healthy and happy cows

“Cow longevity starts already before the calf is born as good genetics is important for a healthy and high producing cow. A high focus on the wellbeing of the animal needs to start as soon as the calf is born to have a healthy and strong cow,“ says Linda. “In general, an older cow produces more milk than a young cow, so there are many positive reasons for keeping your cows healthy and happy. If you add one extra lactation, it can make a big difference for the long-term sustainability of a dairy farm,” says Linda.

Barn environment

The cows’ environment
Many aspects of the farm have to be taken into consideration when creating a good environment for the cows. “Cows rest for more than 12 hours per day, so they need to be able to lie comfortably with enough space and soft bedding. In addition, they should be able to move around freely and have access to good quality feed. A high producing cow drinks 150 litres of water per day, so access to fresh water is also very important,” says Linda. “All cows should have a clean barn with good air at the right temperature”.

At Hamra Farm, the feed is thoroughly analysed and optimised for each cow. The feeding tables and kitchens are clean and looked after. Should there be any contaminated feed from e.g. urine from a cow, everything is cleaned and new feed provided. 

The milking process

Milk ejection is a complicated interaction between the cows’ brain and udder. “It is important that the cows have a stress-free environment during the milking process. Good milking routines, making sure the cows are milked in the same way every time and having a clean environment and equipment is vital. All milking equipment must be properly maintained and controlled. Throughout the milking process data is collected and analysed to ensure high quality milk and good cow health,” says Linda.

Animal welfare is an extremely important area for dairy farms. By providing good conditions for animals, farmers can improve the animal’s health and longevity while at the same time improving farm profitability and reducing their environmental impact.

Sources:

FAO: http://www.fao.org/3/i8384en/I8384EN.pdf

FAO: http://www.fao.org/publications/card/en/c/CA4286EN/

About DeLaval
Our vision is to make sustainable food production possible. As a company built on innovation, we constantly work to find ways of helping our customers, dairy farmers, do more with less by providing world-leading milking equipment and solutions.

Today, DeLaval has approximately 4,500 passionate professionals operating in more than 100 markets around the world. DeLaval is part of the Tetra Laval Group. See more at www.delavalcorporate.com.