Good Hospitality: Making Cows Comfortable This Housing Season

Agridirect.ie discusses “cow comfort”, outlining some ways that farmers can help to make sure their cows are comfortable and happy this housing season.

What is cow comfort?

In the dairy sector, there has been a great push in recent times to promote the idea of “cow comfort”. At its core, cow comfort aims to minimise an animal’s stress and thereby increase productivity. But it is an animal welfare issue as much as it is a matter of farm profitability.

Given that many suckler herds will be moving indoors over the next few weeks, it seems to me that the suckler farmer should also give some thought to cow comfort. Cattle often lose ground when they are housed, and this is not always attributable to the spread of infectious diseases; or, if it is, we should consider the possibility that diseases are spreading through the herd due to issues with our housing plan. If there is little fresh air circulating in the shed, or if cattle are confined to small and overcrowded pens, the risk of typical winter illnesses, and particularly respiratory illnesses, increases tenfold. Cow comfort indeed.

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Winter Menace: Managing Lungworm This Housing Season

Agridirect.ie discusses the threat of lungworm in cattle this winter, and outlines the benefits of a pre-housing dose.

Winter Housing Plan

Autumn is well underway at this stage. As temperatures start to dip, our thoughts turn inevitably to preparation for winter housing. Putting together a good housing plan takes time, and that’s why it is best to start preparing it long before the last paddocks are grazed bare. Farmers can agree to disagree on the finer details of a housing plan, but some things are essential.

Getting your animal grouping selection right, for example, is a major point of concern. You don’t want to pair bigger and smaller animals together or the smaller ones will struggle to get their share at the feeding passage. We also need to remember that the dietary change from grass to hay or silage can be a severe shock to the system, particularly for younger animals. Therefore, choosing dietary supplements will always be an essential part of any good housing plan.

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