Happy cows, high producers

Happy cows, high producers

Happy Cow? - she’ll be a high producer

Joep Driessen: I was thrilled and honored by this article from DairyNZ

Joep Driessen’s cow signals training. By DairyNZ (New Zealand).

DairyNZ: "Joep Driessen is in the business of commonsense.
The Dutch vet has worked with dairy farmers and industry professionals in more than 40 countries, sharing his expertise in reading cow signals, training farmers to recognise what a cow’s body is really telling you.

What sounds a little new age (or perhaps holistic) is largely commonsense, once equipped with a little knowledge of what to look for. Joep says newcomers to dairy farms often benefit but cow signals training also often re-opens the eyes of experienced farmers who, after years in the industry, may have stopped ‘seeing’ their cows.

DairyNZ and VetSouth hosted Joep in Southland for a series of workshops on cow signals and their meaning, along with seminars on stockmanship for housing systems. Joep’s cow signals concept is focused on housing systems, due to their predominance in Europe, but he also trains farmers to recognise what the body of a cow really tells its owners".

Joep Driessen: "A happy cow is a high producing cow – cows should eat as much as they can, if they’re not getting enough food they get sick, because they are not disease-resistant.

If they don’t get enough to eat they end up with problems, including fertility, lameness, acidosis (acid rumen) and ketosis (lacking energy). One sick cow takes as much of your time as 40 healthy cows. Happy, healthy cows need food.

Joep Driessen’s cow signals programme can help prevent common management mistakes – often oversights made on a day-to-day basis. Here, Joep shares some of the most crucial animal husbandry aspects to look out for.


cows produce 8-10 percent more milk when women do the milking...

Quiet cow handling, especially in the dairy shed, on feedpads and in barns, will reduce cow stress, hoof damage, be easier to handle and produce more milk.
Good stockmanship can be as simple as managing your tone of voice and touching cows gently, by patting rather than hitting. This also means no chasing, no shouting or getting closer than two fenceposts from the last cow when bringing them in for milking.

One study found cows produce 8-10 percent more milk when women do the milking, due to their softer, higher pitched voice and tendency to be gentler.
What to do: Talk followed by touch can get a cow’s confidence and reduce flight distance, which should be triggered at no more than 5m. Happy cows have a flight distance of less than 2m.Cow's balancepoint

Understanding a cow’s balance point will also help get close to cows – the balance point is an invisible line across the shoulders. Approaching a cow from behind that balance point line will cause a cow to walk forward, while approaching from the front will cause her to walk back.
Use the shoulder as a guide to approach nervous cows from the side, rather than from the front or back. By approaching from the side, she doesn’t realize you are getting closer. A calm cow can be approached from the front.

Also, when approaching a cow, don’t look directly at her with your eyes. Talk friendly to your cows and use a higher pitch voice. Try calling cows using a friendly, high voice when you want them to come into the shed and a harsher tone of voice to get them out.

Good stockmanship will result in happy cows, more milk, pleasurable work and fewer sick cows. Joep recommends farm staff see things through the eyes of a cow and learn how to reduce stressful situations for them.

Download full article here (pdf) >>

Comments (2)


looks like the holistic approach really works!


Hi, thank you for this very practical, helpful article!! It has increased my awareness and now that I actually do work on a farm it helps me a lot to understand cows and treat them properly, to know how to look at them and see if they are all right!! Awesome!! Thank you!!

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