Understanding cow behaviour

Taking time to watch and interpret cows’ body language – Cow Signals – can help to unlock improved herd performance and business efficiency.

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Producers should observe Cow Signals in relation to the six fundamental areas of feed, water, light, air, space, and lying times, and then make changes to their unit’s infrastructure and management practices to make any necessary improvements.

For example, observing cows fidgeting during milking or with teat damage or irritation may indicate an issue with udder health or milking-parlour setup and further investigation and intervention is required. Cows paddling from foot to foot, or holding up a hoof, could be early indications of dermatitis.

Rest is also important. Making alterations to cubicle design or bedding can extend lying times from 10 to 12 hours, and producers can expect individual milk yields to increase by two litres a day. Ideally a high-yielding cow should rest for between 12 and 14 hours a day.

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