News from Switzerland! CowSignals® Master trainer Tamara Fretz says there will be some changes in Switzerland in the next few years, to improve cow comfort and welfare. Although that’s good news, it also means that many small mountain farmers will have difficult problems to face.
A lot of Swiss dairies use tie-stall barns. They have been the standard for a long time, but other systems have long since proven to be more effective and more animal-friendly.
Switzerland’s biggest food store (Migros) doesn’t accept milk from cows in tie-stall barns anymore, and Swiss banks do not give financial credit to farmers who plan to build a tie-stall barn.
So a lot of farmers need to build free walk barns, but in the mountains farmers simply have no space to build a big barn, apart from building an absurdly expensive terrace construction on poles.
That is why Tamara Fretz was asked to find a good solution. After 6 months, she came across a farmer that may have the solution: the Island System.
The Island System for free walk barns makes the cows feel protected when they lie down (like in a forest). According to Tamara, the best thing is that the beds also count as walking area. That means farmers can use the same space, and don’t have to add extra square meters for the beds.
It’s easy to build and also quite cheap, because it's made of wood.
A farmer near Zurich already uses this system for 30 cows, with a small change: he made little roofs on top of the islands and put these beds outside the barn. His cows have been very happy since.
The system works for cows with and without horns, even a barn with 100 animals could work. And there are also manure robots that can be programmed to run between these islands!
We would love to hear stories from farmers who use this system. What are your experiences? Feel free to share them in the comments, on our social media channels or via info@CowSignals.com!