Evidence that dairy farmers really care and prioritise cow comfort and health has been generated by the survey carried with the previous issue of this newsletter. We have sent the findings to farming unions, Dairy UK and AHDB Dairy with permission and encouragement to use the data to help promote an accurate and caring image of farming, contrary to misleading propaganda put about all too often by the industry’s numerous critics.
The EnviroBed Cubicle Bedding Study found that cow comfort is farmers’ number one priority, rated ‘very important’ by 89% and ‘quite important’ by 9%. A close second, scoring 81% very and 13% quite important, is reducing mastitis bugs. Allied to this, number three is high absorbency, with 71% and 16% respectively.
With productivity in mind, housing specialist Ivor Davey’s claim that increased lying time can increase milk yield at no extra cost received a huge endorsement, rated ‘totally believable’ by 63% of farmers and ‘probably right’ for another 28%.
The importance of reducing humidity in cow housing is also well recognised. To improve ventilation, ridge tiles have been removed by 38% of farmers and fans installed by 9%. Another 18% and 10% respectively are considering these two options.
This winter, of course, keeping cows clean and comfortable is proving rather more expensive than usual due to the shortage of bedding straw, which is also driving up the cost of some other materials. Two exceptions outlined below remain available at prices set in July, long before the straw shortage became apparent.
To readers who took part in the survey, many thanks for your valuable contribution.