Abstracts: Perspectives on pasture versus indoor feeding of dairy cows

The dairy industry in many regions of the world has moved towards a high- input/high-output system maximising annual milk production per cow, primarily through increasing concentrate-based total mixed rations fed indoors year round, as opposed to allowing cows to feed on pasture.

Pasture-based dairy systems in regions like New Zealand and Ireland are oriented towards maximum milk yield per unit of pasture, which has led to Holstein strains that are 50 to 100 kg lighter, exhibit a higher body condition score, and produce roughly half the annual amount of milk as compared to their Holstein counterparts kept in confinement in North America and Europe.

Freedom from hunger might not be guaranteed when high-yielding dairy cows are kept on pasture without any supplemental feed, but at the same time no access to pasture can be considered an animal welfare concern, because pasturing is generally beneficial to the animals’ health. Continue reading Abstracts: Perspectives on pasture versus indoor feeding of dairy cows

Kiwi Post July 2011

We arrived at a dairy farm the other day to find out just how much of a shambles dairy farming currently is in New Zealand. Of course, we all know things are changing fast, but none of us ever guessed it could slump so low.

There were three of us, on farm at 4AM, to pregnancy scan and record an 800 cow herd. We pulled most of the gear out of the car, got set up, and went back to the car to find we had managed to somehow lock it with our car keys and –most distressing of all- all our phones inside.

No problem, we had most of our gear and could carry on scanning while someone broke into it and unlocked it. Plenty of half-employed drongos on a dairy farm to do this in five minutes. So we started up scanning.

But modern dairy farms have changed. And, when it comes to a bit of breaking and entry, not for the better. Nobody employs drongos anymore. These days on Kiwi dairy farms the vast majority of staff are likely to be from overseas and have a tertiary degree. So, if they’re not from Europe with a science degree, they’re from the Phillipines with a veterinary degree, or Asia with an agricultural degree.

So, a little over 3 hours later when we came to wash up we found that nobody had broken into our car because nobody had any idea how to. Worst still, even if they could, it would be simply unthinkable for them to carry out such a wanton act of crime. On the farm that day, including us, were 8 people from 7 nationalities with at least 9 degrees amongst us, and not a single Kiwi. Continue reading Kiwi Post July 2011