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Animal health & welfare
A healthy cow is the basis of every dairy farm. After all, a healthy cow lives longer, produces more milk and gives the dairy farmer job satisfaction. This starts with the calf: a good start is of great importance for the health and productivity of a cow in the rest of its life.
All DOC Kaas member dairy farmers monitor the animal and calf health by means of KoeMonitor and KalfOK. KoeMonitor is a system of the Dutch dairy industry to guarantee animal health, animal welfare and food safety. It ensures that dairy farmers and dairy companies demonstrably comply with European and national legislation and regulations. KalfOK gives dairy farmers quarterly feedback on the quality of calf rearing. The system was developed in collaboration with dairy farmers, veterinarians, animal health experts and representatives of ZuivelNL.
Members dairy farmer Geert and Jennie van Zoelen from Ommeren
“Animal welfare goes hand in hand with productivity”
Dairy farmer Geert van Zoelen built a new barn in 2015 where animal welfare influenced the design. “The barn is well-ventilated and has spacious paths so the cows can easily pass each other – even when a cow is at the feed fence. There is sand in the cubicles. It’s nice and cool in the summer and it prevents ‘scalding’. The sand also ends up on the walkways, which therefore remain rough.
Van Zoelen’s cows are fed automatically 5 times a day. In this way, the herd often receives fresh feed and they are encouraged to come to the feed fence. With more movement as a result. They are given a mixture of maize, silage, brewers grains and concentrated feed. The composition of maize and silage differs per group: pregnant cows, for instance, get a different proportion than the dairy cows. And just before calving they get another diet.
The dairy farm has outdoor grazing. “Cows suffer from heat stress above 21 degrees, so I start pasturing very early. In April, May and June, the cows go outside for more than six hours every day. The temperature and the quality of the grass are very good then. And if it is very hot in July and August, they stay inside. Then they go out again in September.”