Lambert VanderMade and his family, owners of VanderMade and FreshMade Dairies in Sherwood, Ohio, believe a focus on cow comfort for animals of all ages is key to keep cows happy, healthy and producing.
“We were convinced over the years that our older cows would benefit from a different system. A system that was more spacious and even less stress,” explains Lambert.
See how the VanderMade family kept cow comfort top of mind when building a farm for mature cows:
The VanderMade family has a love of cows that is easy to spot. They strive to give their ladies the perfect place to live. That’s why the family built a farm for only mature cows, with a goal of supporting cow longevity.
After extensive research, the VanderMade family built FreshMade Dairy, a 600-cow dairy farm, two miles down the road from the home farm. This one-of-a-kind facility is exclusively designed for cows at least four years old. When he started using it, production took off and he extended the herd’s longevity by a year.
8 Cow Comfort Tips
What’s their secret to keeping mature cows happy, comfortable and producing? It’s simple. Meet their needs:
1. More space.
Simply put, mature dairy cows are bigger. At FreshMade Dairy, cows have twice the square footage for resting, eating, drinking and walking compared to VanderMade Dairy.
2. Less stress.
Although cows tend to calm down as they age, providing a low stress environment can support more efficient milk production and happier cows. How quiet is it when walking through the barn? That can be a good indicator.
3. Design facilities for cows, not people.
Barns designed for cow comfort can help maintain healthy animals. This ranges from barn layout to ventilation and everything in-between. It’s all about the cow.
4. Feed a high-performance diet.
Think of mature cows as marathon athletes. Work with your nutritionist to design a diet with adequate energy and calories to support peak milk production.
5. Keep things tidy.
Whether it’s stalls, walkways or bunks, maintaining these areas daily will help with hoof health, hock cleanliness and overall health of the animals.
6. Proper ventilation.
Cows generate a lot of body heat while they work to produce milk. Barn ventilation can help prevent heat stress. From fans to curtains and everything in between, proper ventilation helps keep cows cool and productive. For example, at FreshMade Dairy ventilation is controlled by a weather station.
7. Prevention is key.
Proper nutrition, vitamins, minerals and vaccinations are great prevention tools. They can lead to healthier animals that stay in production longer, ultimately impacting your bottom line.
8. The rewards of herd longevity.
When you can have a 12- or 13-year-old cow milking alongside daughters and granddaughters, that’s simply incredible! And it pays, too.
After implementing these cow comfort tips at FreshMade Dairy, the VanderMade family has added a year of lifetime production to the herd. What could you achieve by taking cow comfort to the next level?