Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Vet School Success
Today was our first visit out to a working farm as part of our animal hygiene module, basically to let us put everything that we have covered in the module so far into practice. I am going share some photo’s and videos today as they were very enthusiastic with us taking them as to paraphrase they have nothing to hide as they exceed all the legal standards! I absolutely love this philosophy and the level of care and welfare shown to these animals exceeds some UK farms!!!
It is a large farm split over several different sites producing milk, sheep and beef. The site we visited today was their main one which has around 500 cows and 1600 sheep. Whilst it may seem like a large number of cows, the use of a management system where cows had free access to internal and external areas in groups of no more than 20. The door’s between the inside and outside areas have coverings to help prevent draughts and are even fitted with brushes for the cows to use (yes I had to get a video)!
Something I would like to talk about here is animal behaviour – whilst the intent of the brush is for cows to be able to clean themselves it is by no means what the cows are doing. When talking about animal behaviour it is important to record the action without interpretation as unless you can speak animal you can never be sure what the intention is. A very recent example would be a friend whose dog would grab their shoes, they had always thought it because the dog liked shoes. However when it was suggested that they try taking the dog for a walk when he did this they realised it was because the dog needed toilet, and associated shoes with going outside.
Anyways back on topic, in addition the cows and milk production there were also sheep located in a separate area of the farm. Lambing had finished already in February so there was a lot of lambs around, however here the magic number (lambs to ewe ratio) was 1.2 which from my experience in with UK farms was a little low. When I say low here I mean in terms of production economics for the producers, however a lower number is generally better for the ewe as it means that there are less twins and triplets. During the visit the farm cat popped into say hi, I just had to get this on video as it was so cute!
All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience as back in the UK there are so many horror stories of farms in Europe so it was a great experience to have this myth dispelled!