Cow comfort and its impact on dairy's carbon footprint

The Canadian dairy industry has made great strides in cow comfort over the past 20 years.

It’s a story EastGen genetics veterinarian Dr. Tim Henshaw feels all dairy farmers should be actively telling all friends, neighbours ,and consumers within earshot. From mats and bedding for cows to lie on, to adequate stall space and better ventilation systems to control disease, cow comfort is a story producers should be crowing about proudly, says the passionate dairy farming advocate.

Earlier this month at the Canadian Dairy XPO (CDX) at Stratford, Ont., Henshaw sat down with RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin to discuss the significant impact cow comfort can have on animal health, welfare, and productivity. One of the best stories, he says is the impact of robot milkers. “These are voluntary systems. People have to understand that the cow wants to be milked, the cow needs to be milked,” he says. “With the robot system it takes the timing away for us and puts it on her so she goes to be miked when she wants to be milked.”

Henshaw points out that anyone walking around the CDX tradeshow would quickly realize the tremendous amount of research and innovation the dairy industry invests in cow comfort. “We want to look after cow comfort not only because it affects productivity and profitability, but because it’s the right thing to do,” he says. (Story continues after the interview.)

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Henshaw says the dairy story gets even better when you look at the environmental impact of productivity gains linked, in part, to cow comfort. “When we increase the amount of milk produced per cow, we lower the carbon footprint,” he notes. “There is more milk produced now in Canada, with one-third less animals, than there was 20 years ago.”

In the interview, Henshaw also discusses some of the cow comfort and animal welfare trends he sees in the dairy industry over the next ten years, including more grass-fed dairy and a return to pasture while milking.

Click here for more Canadian Dairy XPO coverage.

 

 

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