Go With The Flow
"Looking at low cost improvement to milk harvesting through better cow flow”
Section 1 – Introduction to cow flow
Cow flow refers to the movement of cows during milk harvesting. Cow flow has an impact on all of the milk harvesting processes. Even ‘cleaning up’ is longer if cows are upset and dung everywhere or stand on the yard longer than needed.
This Shed Shake-up is primarily concerned with making the best use of the cow’s natural instincts at milking time.
Section 2: What factors influence cow flow?
Read Quick Note 1.1 "Cow behaviour and milk let-down" to understand how a cow thinks and feels about her surroundings. Fear is a very powerful emotional state and can have a bad influence on cow flow. Good stock handlers know how cows think!
*1st key message – Remembering how cows think and perceive their environment can reduce a cow’s fear at milking.*
Read Quick Note 1.3 "Key factors to ensure a calm, consistent milking routine" and Quick Note 3.1 "Designing for better cow flow" to learn how to improve cow flow.
Section.3 – Handling factors
A good stock handler can improve cow comfort at milking time.
Read Quick Note 1.2 "Cow handling – interactions between people and cows" for ideas on how to reduce fear. Even moderate slaps or pushes can frighten a cow if used frequently.
*2nd key message - It is important to remember that some minor negative behaviours can have a major impact on the cow's feelings and her health and productivity.*
Section 4 – People factors
When we visit farms we find that many farmers are stressed at milking. It is no wonder that calm routines and behaviours sometimes go out the window in the heat of the moment!
It is important to remember that both the cow and the stockhandler are affected by one another.
Changing habits is very difficult – particularly as it can take time before you see results AND every stockhandler must be doing the right thing.
Watch the video of Go With The Flow
CowTime Guidelines Chapter 2 : "Cows, people, facilities" is a good summary of all the points covered in Go With The Flow.
Read these Case Studies of dairy farmers who have improved their cow flow and stockhandling: