Minimum standards taking effect from 31 October 2019
The new minimum standards will affect farmers in the following situations:
- If farmers are wintering cows on hard surfaces such as stones or concrete with no soft lying area they will need to ensure a compressible surface for the cows to lie on is available - this can include covering concrete with rubber
- If farmers are calving cows on hard surface such as concrete or stones they must ensure a dry, non-slip covering such as straw or rubber matting and manage the amount of effluent build-up on the surface
- If farmers are calving cows on off paddock facilities cows must have sufficient space to separate themselves to calve away from the main group. This is a stocking rate consideration and managed through springer identification
- If farmers have woodchip pads with no roof that become wet to the point of ponding or wet mud consistency, drainage must be good enough that the effects of wet weather are minimised to allow maximum space and comfort for cows to lie down
- It will affect farmers who use concrete feedpads during wet weather to avoid pugging, and who keep cows on feedpads most of the day for several days. In this situation some access to drier paddocks must be achieved during each day, or investment in rubber matting may be considered if pugging management is regular and prolonged.
The minimum standards have set a maximum time on hard or unsuitable surfaces at 16 hours a day, so it is possible to operate a 12 hour on 12 hour off, or between milking strategy and remain within the standards. However, most farmers want to go above and beyond the minimum standards so may consider reducing extended time on hard surfaces to protect animal health and wellbeing.
Once new standards are operating, farmers may find it useful to keep track of how many hours a day, and how many days, cows are in off paddock facilities to ensure they meet the requirements.
For more information see the amended Dairy Cattle Code of Welfare.