It turns out that happy cows produce better milk.
The finding is not new. The California Milk Advisory Board has been saying it for years. But now a team of researchers, working with the University of Wisconsin’s Dairyland Initiative, is helping farmers have happier herds.
The researchers are visiting dairy farms and showing farmers how to improve their cows’ living conditions. Their advice and information is available around the world on their website.
One important area for discussion is how to prevent leg pain, a condition also called lameness.
Nigel Cook is with the Dairyland Initiative.
"Lameness impacts everything a cow gets to do in her day. It impacts the way she rests, the way she milks, the way she eats, her ability to reproduce and ultimately her ability to stay on the farm.”
Speaking in a cow barn, Cook explains that a bed of sand can provide a good place for cows to lie down during the day.
“The deep, soft bedding of sand creates an environment where cows can rest half the day, and that is incredibly important to cows."
The researchers advise farmers to provide bigger stalls, the areas where cows are kept in a barn. They also say farmers should use more fans to keep the animals cool, and feed all their cows at the same time.
And researchers say it is a good idea to keep cows with their usual group of friends when it comes time for them to give birth. This helps lessen the stress for the cows.
Mitch Breunig owns the Mystic Valley Dairy in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. He says he used the advice to improve the conditions for his 400 cows.
"If you take away their stress, they actually produce more milk. And then the other thing that actually is interesting is they do it by eating less feed."
Since he made the changes, Breunig says the dairy’s production has increased. His cows have gone from producing 49 liters of milk a day to almost 57 liters.
Also, his cows have fewer injuries and live about a year longer than before. That is good for the animals, and for people, too.
I’m Anne Ball.
Anne Ball adapted this story for Learning English from a VOA News story. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and visit us on our Facebook page.
Words in This Story
herd – n. a group of animals that live together
lameness – n. pain in the legs that make walking difficult
impact – v. to have a strong, and often bad effect on something
ultimately – adv. at the end of a process
stress – n. a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.