New housing tool is one-stop shop for 21st Century dairy cows

UNITED KINGDOM - The perfect dairy housing design to suit production system, climate, labour availability and the latest environmental and welfare needs can now be developed – and fully costed – thanks to the new Housing the 21st Century Cow pack from the Milk Development Council (MDC).
calendar icon 7 December 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
The pack, which collects world-wide research together for the first time, offers a one-stop shop for producers considering an investment in new dairy cow housing, or adapting their current set-up to suit changing needs.

It includes a comprehensive report and a housing ‘wizard’ that work together to explore the practical and financial implications of a range of dairy housing options, covering the spectrum of production systems.

Brian Lindsay, MDC’s head of Farm Management, says: “The industry is dealing with new challenges in the 21st Century, including the shortage and expense of labour, climate change, tighter regulation, and reduced farmgate prices.

“The public’s awareness of animal welfare is also increasing and now, more than ever, we are farming in a goldfish bowl. Changes to buildings should be seen to place a priority on the cow’s comfort and ability to display natural behaviour. “But as well as this, building new housing or upgrading existing units is a huge financial commitment, which could be regretted for the next 25 years if it goes wrong,” adds Mr Lindsay.

The pack covers elements such as cubicles, passages, slurry, feeding areas, ventilation, and cow flow. It works out how much the investment is likely to cost so that farmers can directly see how their housing choices could impact their bottom line. As well as this being ideal information for seeking quotes and holding informed discussions with contractors, dairy farmers can make sure the investment decision will fully reflect all their needs – from latest technologies and welfare to available capital and operational budgets.

Housing the 21st Century Cow is one of a number of tools designed by the MDC to help the farmers assess their current position, where they want their business to be heading, and how they are going to achieve their goals. As part of this, the MDC is committed to getting the latest research and development on-farm in an easy-to-use format.

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