Milking healthy old cows

“Healthy cows lower the cost price of each unit of energy-corrected milk. As there is no disease without infection, I believe that all cattle farmers should aspire to have their cattle live in an environment that minimises the chances of infection”. Says Wilco de Crom.
Jos Seuntiens

Wilco de Crom, European Division Manager Cattle at MS Schippers
Having been responsible for the Cattle Division since 2014, Wilco focuses on the HyCare vision. His goal is to extend the lifespan with 1 year.

Financial returns in dairy farming.

When analysing the returns of the average farm, profit margins of dairy farmers around the globe have been under pressure for years. The margins between the cost price and milk price is quite slim, while the ability to earn a profit is the foundation for creating a sustainable dairy farm. Dairy farmers must be able to shoulder replacement investments while also wanting to make additional investments to prepare their companies for the future.

Another similarly important aspect is what you can influence yourself, such as your cost price per kg of energy-corrected milk. This revolves around a single objective: maximise the production of fat and proteins per kg of phosphate and limit your costs as much as you can. Of course this concept isn’t new. Many dairy farmers already decided to decrease their percentage of young cattle when phosphate rights were introduced. This easy and short-term solution may however very well prove costly on the long run.

Produce as much kg of fat and proteins for each kg of phosphate while limiting costs to a minimum.

The only objective in this respect is milking healthy old cows! They are the key to lowering the cost price for each kg of energy corrected milk.

Healthy old cows produce 1,500kg more milk than heifers, which results in:
• An increase of average milk production per cow (also in kg of fat and protein)
• A decrease in cattle costs per kg of milk (less cattle per kg of milk)
• An increase in feed efficiency and decrease in feed cost per kg of milk

Healthy old cows ensure that:
• A smaller percentage of young cattle can be maintained, which:
• Decreases rearing costs per kg of milk
• Produces more milk while emitting less phosphate


Obstacles for milking healthy old cows

Cattle farmers often lack transparent insights in the reasons that cause milk cows or calves to have to leave the herd. For milk cows, cattle farmers often suspect that they must be retired due to problems in terms of fertility, udder health or claw problems. While these assumptions can be correct, the root cause of 80% of all forced retirements are infections. These are caused by an increased infection pressure and/or reduced resistance. As there is no disease without infection, cattle farmers can prevent many problems and early retirements by creating an environment that reduces the chances of infection for calves and cows to a minimum.

HyCare as the management benchmark for cattle farmers headings into the future

HyCare creates a new standard in the field of hygiene and care for dairy herds. This management approach aims at increasing the health of old cows by reducing the chances of infections. The key pillars that form the HyCare foundation are: clean feed and drinking water, a low-pathogenic living environment, pest and vermin control, healthy claws and a healthy transition. A key requirement of any such approach, is that it must be easy to both implement and consistently execute for cattle farmers. This is exactly why many of the HyCare tasks are automated, outsourced or structured to make them easy to apply. HyCare therefore means proper hygiene and ideal living conditions, as well as easy and structured work to increase both efficiency and work satisfaction.

Hygiene specialist

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