- Lying down is very important to cows. It provides rest, opportunity to sleep, and reduces the risk of lameness, which leads to better animal welfare.
- Lying time in a grazed system is dependent on weather and ground conditions.
- The welfare code requires a minimum of eight hours lying time per day. In an outdoor system, short periods (less than 24hours) of some disruption to lying times are normal.
- Cows will compensate for shorter lying times during bad weather by increasing their lying time when the weather and ground conditions improve.
- If CSAs are well managed and soil type is suitable for wintering, then cows will experience the majority of their winter with a suitable lying area.
“I know that my cows are getting enough time resting if most of the cows are lying down when I check them in the afternoon, or if I can see lots of hollows where they have been lying.”
Including animal care factors in your wintering plans ensures the whole farm team understand the levels of care expected on your farm during winter.
What is comfortable for a cow?
DairyNZ Animal Care Extension Specialist Ashley Greenwood dives in to the most challenging factor for Winter 2021 and beyond - how do we provide a comfortable lying surface for our cows on crop paddocks?
Ashley talks to two farmers who have adopted in and out of paddock options to achieve comfort for their cows, and discusses the why behind the challenge with DairyNZ Senior Manager Helen Thoday.
Providing a comfortable lying surface
Here are a few suggestions of how you can do this:
- Move the break fence regularly to provide fresh ground, as long as it does not result in overallocation of crop and create potential nutritional risks.
- Strategically graze the paddock, avoiding wet areas.
- Protect the area closest to the feeding face by grazing animals into the prevailing weather conditions.
- Save drier areas, especially any with shelter, for your contingency plan.
- During wet conditions allow cows more space by giving access to ground behind the back fence if that ground is suitable for lying.
- Keep supplement feed and water troughs near the feeding face, not in any swales or hollows, which may create excess mud.
- Roll out hay or straw for cows to lie down on.
- If you have limited options, put cows that will be most affected by a period of poor weather (younger, lighter, earlier calvers) into paddocks with the most shelter, best soil condition or best feed.
Photos: Look for the 'moulds' or 'bowls' that cows leave on the surface.