Our RoMS-qualifying mobility scoring course
On 10th Jan I ran a mobility scoring course which qualified the attendees to go on the Register of Mobility Scorers. We learned about lameness, the cost of lameness to the UK dairy industry and to individual farmers. Then we got onto the role that early detection plays in making things better. And how mobility scoring is the first step towards reducing lameness and cutting that often forgotten cost of having a lameness problem. We set our boundaries for the mobility scores in the AHDB Mobility Scoring system - from 0 (perfect locomotion) to 3 (severe lameness), using videos of other people mobility scoring. Then after lunch we went to a local dairy farm and practised what we had learnt. The scoring itself is not the complicated bit in real life - it's keeping safe, choosing a place to stand where you get a good enough view without influencing the cows and feeding back your findings to the farm staff.
This was one of the places we tried mobility scoring the cows. We had good vision of the cows from the side, could identify the cows from their freeze brands and were not impacting the way most of the cows walked... the more nosey ones stopped to look, but most kept on walking back to their feed. The surface under foot was flat, with good grip and no obstacles.
If you are interested in joining one of our future mobility scoring courses, see the details here:
Cooling dairy cows using water sprays
Cows don't like the heat - they don't have as good an ability to cope with high temperature as they do with low temperature. And when we have a few hot days in a row like right now, you will notice the physiological effect that the heat has. A lot of our dairies have fans placed throughout the cow sheds to bring in and distribute fresh cool air. I've been looking up a couple of papers about the use of water sprays to help cows stay cool, which is likely to be a useful next step in tackling the effects of heat stress.
The Chen paper looked at what effect the flow rate and droplet size had on the cooling success. They measured cooling success using skin temperature, respiratory rate and core body temperature. They found that, contrary to popular belief, water droplet size had no recordable effect. There was thought that bigger droplets had a greater effect as it gave better hair coat penetration, but it wasn't seen in this study. And on flow rate, they found that the significant increase came from a flow rate of 1.3L/min. While increases above this rate did improve the cooling of the cows, the effect was very small and probably not worth the increased cost in terms of water usage.
The Legrand paper used a voluntary cow shower - with the cows choosing when and for how long to use a sprinkler system to cool off. The cows with access to a shower system had a lower core body temperature compared with cows not given the opportunity. The cows who could use a shower also spent less time standing at the water trough. An interesting finding here was the variability between individuals of use of the water shower: some didn't use it even though they were given access, others stood in it for 8 hours in a 24 hours period!
It might seem a lot of trouble and expense when we don't see the very high temperatures that other dairying areas of the world sometimes see, but the top end of the Comfort Zone for cattle is 25oC and we would get to this temperature in a cattle house more often than it might appear. Once we get to this temperature, the cows will be reducing movement and rumination to reduce heat production as well as trying to increase heat loss by energy consuming activities like panting, drooling and increasing skin blood flow. This all comes at a cost to efficiency, so we should look to make these cows more comfortable by lowering the temperature below the 25oC upper threshold.
Is High Production Compatible with Good Fertililty
In October, I attended the BCVA Congress in Harrogate. This was a really interactive and interesting conference which I thoroughly enjoyed. One of the best lectures was from Stephen Le Blanc, on production and fertility...is there a correlation and, if so, is it cause or effect? I was so fascinated by this concept that I felt the need to write an article on it! Have a look at it in this month's newsletter.
South West Dairy Event 2nd October
After a slow start, at which point I was wondering whether it was worth all the effort to sort out the stand, this show was busy busy busy. From 10am onwards, we were pouring cider, handing out food and persuading people into filling in our free prize draw like it was going out of fashion. In fact, by the end of the day, I realised that I hadn't left the stand at all for the whole day. But it really was great to see so many of our clients as well as industry, farmers from the South West and young people interested in farming as a career. We have now published the photos under Photo Galleries. Click to view to see if you were caught on camera!
South West Dairy Event 2nd October......We'll be there, will you?
If you don't yet have tickets, Farmer's Guardian are running a competition to win one of 10 pairs of tickets. Have a look at this link for more information: http://farmersguardian.msgfocus.com/q/120M8xP3shDGnB72M4SI/wv
Are you Happy with how your Dairy Co Levy is being spent?
It seems as though this is a hot topic with very strong opinions on both sides. Farmers For Action have set up an online petition for those dairy farmers who think that the way that their levy monies are utilised is not right.
Others seem very happy with how Dairy Co is run. Dairy Co recently publised a response to Ian Potter's July article in Farmer's Guardian.
Which side do you fall on?
To learn more about what Dairy Co do for the British Dairy farmer, see the Dairy Co Website
Dairy Cow Housing
Here is the latest Kingshay newsletter
In case you don't have time to read it all, just have a look at this graph which I think tells a very obvious but very important story: