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Cow comfort

Comfortable cows can make them healthier and increase productivity

Cow comfort

If your cows could look you in the eye and tell you what would make their lives more comfortable, you'd do it, right? A contended cow is a cash cow.

Radio interview source: Marcia Endres, Extension Dairy Scientist, University of Minnesota

Click to listen about Cow comfort

Keeping your cows content

They don't need chocolate and flowers, but they do appreciate a cushy place to lie down. Resting time is essential for cow performance because it increases blood flow to the mammary glands, which helps milk production, says University of Minnesota dairy scientist Marcia Endres. Research has shown that efforts to make cows more comfortable can make them healthier and increase productivity, says Endres.

"Have your cows on pasture during the summer. Pastures are a very comfortable surface," she says. In the barn, stalls should be large enough so "the animal can fit comfortably in the stall, and can express a natural behavior of rising and lying down without having to hit any structures or being hindered in any way."

When the cows are moving around, watch how they walk. Do they move with confidence or are they hesitant? Slippery floors are stressful to them and may cause injuries, so non-slip flooring is a must. If you have concrete floors, Endres recommends they be grooved for better traction. Keep the floors as clean as possible because hooves that walk through manure can become diseased.

Heat is hard on cows. Their ideal temperature is around 45 degrees, says Endres. "So when it gets to be 70, 80, 90 degrees, a cow is really stressed out." Make sure cows have a good supply of water and can get in the shade. "Provide trees or have a portable shade structure that can be moved to different areas of the pasture."

Another cow stressor is anger - they don't like to be yelled at. Some cows are more obedient than others, but a soft voice and quiet demeanor will pay off in production, says Endres.

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