The basis of Cowsignals® is observing the cow’s body language and translating it to management. It lays a solid foundation for the management of farms and helps to demonstrate how to monitor and improve management to ensure that farmers and cows are achieving optimum health, performance and welfare on farms.
The special training day sponsored by Cornish Mutual and Harpers Home Mix Ltd with funding accessed via Healthy Livestock, was held at Shernick Farm, Bridgerule in Holsworthy, a family partnership of Husband and wife Trevor and Ingrid Bray and their son Richard with a total dairy herd of 350 cows.
The Cowsignals® concept developed by Jan Hulsen and Joep Drissen of training company Vetvice based in the Netherlands is active in over 45 countries. The basis of the training is to observe cow’s body language and translate it to management to help prevent disease and have happy cows.
Haines Watts Rural Business appointed David Wilde a Ruminant Nutritionist and Product Manager for Massey Feeds, sister firm to Harpers Home Mix Ltd, as the trainer for the day.
A Cowsignals® master trainer for over two years David’s full-day training included both theory and practical exercises for the farmers. The group looked at cows, and David demonstrated where farmers can learn to pick up the cow’s signals and use them effectively.
David Wilde, Certified Cowsignals® Trainer says: “The concept was devised in 1997 by Dutch vets as a tool for dairy farmers to reassess and revaluate their herds and look at what they are telling us. Over the last 4 – 5 years it has moved at a rapid pace worldwide and is now in trained in nearly 50 countries. It gives a fascinating insight into what the cow is telling us and what small changes may make a world of difference to her. Cows give out signals all the time about the environment in which they are living and whether they are happy or discontent. Cows don't know how to lie and the purpose of the training day was to educate farmers to recognise the host of signals they give and to recognise how they are feeling. Farmers can then interpret this body language and act on it. An example is are we doing the best we can in the housing area during winter to mimic the natural and healthy outdoor environment? Content and comfortable cows who are eating well provide better milk and higher fertility, which is something farmers should take very seriously.”
Haines Watts Rural Business LLP provide a unique combination of agricultural and financial expertise to rural business in the South West. The firm offers both personal and business support to managers and owners to develop and put in place tailored farm strategies, annual plans and improvement projects together with technical advice.
Lucy Thomas, Farming Consultant – Haines Watts Rural Business LLP says: “We wanted to organise this special event to give our farming clients the tools they need to do their job more effectively and help to have a more profitable business as a result.. The invaluable training and expertise given by David means that they will have healthier and more content cows which in turn will increase the milk yield and help them to make more money and grow the business. It was also a great way of bringing our farming clients together to share their own knowledge and experience. The feedback has been very positive and it has proved to be a very successful and worthwhile day.”
One of the farmers who took part in the training was new business owner, Jim Tucker of Larrick Farm based in Launceston. A former dairy farmer he gave up the original business in 1999 when interest rates were high and has been a part-time farmer and builder for the last 12 years. Six months’ ago he set up a new dairy farm business with 60 cows and uses the revolutionary Robotic Milking System which works 24/7 which means he can monitor the milking remotely as any problems are texted to him on his mobile phone.
He says: “I am fortunate in that as a brand new business I have a modern and high-spec farm and it was reassuring to find that many of the infrastructures and practices I have put in place were recommended by David Wilde to create the right environment for a happy herd. I really enjoyed the training day and to have an expert guide us through what signs we should be looking for. It was also very beneficial to come and see a large and successful working farm and share experiences with other farmers.”
Shernick Farm, Holsworthy was the host farm for the event. Co-owner Richard Bray comments: “We have developed a long-term relationship with Haines Watts Rural Business who have helped us make improvements to the farm and also as importantly tell us what we are doing right in order to grow the business so we were more than happy to host this event on their behalf. It was a great day and a fascinating subject. The group were all progressive farmers who saw the benefits of giving up a day working on their farms to get invaluable expertise and knowledge from an expert on how we can make our herds more comfortable and have happier and healthier cows. It was also a good opportunity to talk to fellow-farmers and share information.”
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