Nathalie Roth is on of our master trainers in Switzerland. She wrote a thesis about effective adaptations in farming systems. They have a great impact by lowering antibiotics use, increasing milk yield and an improved quality of life for the farm managers and their families. Congratulations to Nathalie!
Examples from the research
Non-slippery grass mats in tie stall
Cross passages without closed side walls
Rubber on the floor in the waiting room and on the steps
Tie stalls without dividers
Research summary: Effective adaptations in farming systems to meet the needs of the dairy cow
The goal of this Master Thesis is to present effective and practical
solutions for a needs-based improvement in the farming of dairy cattle,
and to illustrate their practical implications. Scientific studies concerning
the natural requirements of dairy cattle, and their demands regarding
housing were compared with the analyzed adaptations and practical
A total of 36 dairy farms were studied for this thesis, which had adapted
their cattle housing to the needs of their dairy herd between 2010 and
2014. These changes have been documented, photographically and in
writing, and the farm managers interviewed. The themes discussed during
the visits included first impressions of the adaptations, as well as the
reasons for these changes, and the satisfaction with the current system.
The importance of housing systems on the health and welfare of dairy
cattle is often underestimated, especially concerning the resting areas,
which play an important role. The negative consequences of insufficient
comfort when lying down are repeatedly described in scientific studies as
well as confirmed by farmers. Bovine health issues were often mentioned
as motives for the optimization of the farming system. However, what
finally convinced farmers to optimize their buildings, was the proven effect
of simple and inexpensive adaptations to meet the cattle’s needs.
According to the farm managers, a short time after the adaptations were
made, resting times were extended, humane methods of lying down and
standing up could be achieved, and a decrease in postural damages - such
as swellings around joints - could be observed.
Therefore, an effective change in the farming system can have a positive
impact by lowering the use of antibiotics, which can in the long term
increase life expectancy and allow the possibility of selling breeding
animals. In addition, a drift towards higher milk yields was noted. A
supplementary beneficial effect was the growing joy in animal husbandry
and an improved quality of life for the farm managers and their families.
According to the results of this study there is enormous potential to
optimize existing dairy buildings. However, even modern farms are still
being built with infrastructures that do not meet the natural needs of dairy
cattle. Therefore, to avoid construction mistakes in the first place, special
attention should be paid to professional advice during the planning phase.