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▷ Modern dairy farming - from the tie-rod to the playpen


Modern dairy cattle husbandry

From the tie-rod to the playpen.

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About 12.5 million cattle live in Germany. One third of them, about 4.3 million animals, are dairy cows. Germany is the nation with the largest milk production in Europe.

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Average milk yield of dairy cows

From the organic cow to the high-performance cow

A high-performance dairy cow, such as the black-and-white pied Holstein-Friesian, can produce 9,000 to 14,000 liters of milk per year. Other breeds give up to 30 liters of milk a day and have a milk yield of up to 8,000 liters a year. A dairy cow that lives in organic farming will not be able to produce more than 9000 liters of milk annually. The milk yield of organic cows is comparable to that of conventional cows. However, the amount of milk that can be sold is reduced for the organic farmer because he feeds the calves with the natural milk of the cows in the first three months of life and not with protein-containing milk substitutes like the conventional farmer.

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From the tie-rod to the playpen

Already 75 percent of all cattle live in pens.

A permanent place for the cow to attach, sleep and eat with chains or straps no longer meets the standards of modern animal husbandry. A cow that has to eat tethered will develop postural and joint damage and fall ill quickly. Since 2013, tie-ups in organic farming are therefore prohibited. Only exceptions are allowed at farms with fewer than 35 cows. Especially in southern Germany is often a village location of the court reason that a playpen for reasons of space is not possible. According to the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), 75 percent of all cattle now live in pens.

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The modern playpen

In the playpen the cow should be able to move freely. Organic farming requires a minimum of 6 square meters of open space and 4.5 square meters per cow. The total stall area is divided into the area for eating, lying and walking around. A playpen is a stable with a lying, feeding and running area. Most of the stable floor is a concrete slit floor, through the cracks, the excretions of the cows can seep. In the lying area boxes are separated, where the cows can chew undisturbed. They are either provided with rubber mats or strewn with straw, hay or sawdust. It is mandatory in the organic farming that the box of the cow is provided with litter. In the feeding area, every cow should have a place to eat. Usually there are also brushes, where the cows can rub at will to clean the flanks or the back. The running area includes the aisles with which the areas are interconnected.

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Modern milking technique

Again, more and more technology is used.

In addition, there is a milking parlor. The milking parlor can often head for their choice at a time, where they are then fixed and milked. Normally a cow is milked every 10-14 hours. A milking robot can take over the milking process automatically. The cows are attracted with concentrated feed and then identified via the transponder. If the cow has already been milked shortly before, the milking robot drives it back out of the milking facility. A milking robot can perform up to 200 milkings daily. The milk is immediately filtered so that contaminants can be removed directly. A cowshed is mostly cool, as the cows prefer temperatures around 7 degrees. At temperatures above 17 degrees, the milk yield of the cows decreases.

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Nutrition of the dairy cows

The food of cows consists of grass and hay. The acid balance of the rumen stomach relies on this type of feed. In the Biotierhaltung dairy cows must be fed exclusively with feed that sind.In conventional dairy farming is genetically unchanged soybean that has been genetically modified or treated with pesticides allowed. To increase the milk yield, an addition of concentrates is necessary, which is particularly rich in energy and protein and often consists of cereals, sugar beet or rape and soybean meal. Both conventionally kept cows and organic cows are fed with concentrated feed.

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Feed dispensing at the machine

Each cow has a variable need for food, which depends on its age, the amount of milk it delivers, or whether the cow is pregnant. Therefore, in modern dairy farms, the individual data of a cow is often transmitted via a transponder to a feeding station which registers which cow is approaching and then delivers a feed ration tailored to that cow. With a milk yield of 40 liters, a cow needs up to 52 kilograms of feed and about 160 liters per liter of milk. Usually a mixture of all usual components of the cow feed (grass silage, maize silage, concentrated feed) is given out as a mixture in the ration adapted to the cow via the automatic feeder. A year-round feeding with silage, so fermented by lactic acid and preserved food, is prohibited. Healthy feeding is more important than the amount of feed. The cow should not put on too much fat, otherwise it will be less fertile or less milk.

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The best pastures for the dairy cows

Actually, cows are steppe animals that would spend the whole day grazing under natural conditions. Not every dairy farmer has his own pasture. There are stables, to which only one open yard area is connected, on which the cows do not graze at the outlet, but can catch fresh air. Cows that have a grazing opportunity are left on pasture from April to October. These grazing options are important for cow health, especially the claws and joints of the cows. Only in a pasture can the cows live out their natural herding behavior. However, cows only have a claim to grazing in organic farming. For the conventional attitude, there are no legal regulations that would require a grazing or running.

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Offspring and breeding

Three to five pregnancies in organic milk cows.

Between the sixth and twelfth month of life, a cow becomes sexually mature. For breeding it must have reached about 75 percent of its final weight, which is at the typical breeds at about 400 kilograms. Properly fed, cows need up to 1.5 years to reach this weight. Every year, the dairy cow has to give birth to a calf so that it can produce milk. The cub is separated from the mother immediately after birth. This is intended to protect the cows from infection and prevent binding between the mother and the calf. This is almost always the case with cows in organic farming. In some stables, however, there is a "mother-bound rearing" in which the calf stays with the mother for up to 9 months. Of course, milk from such stables is more expensive for the consumer. Since the calf is fed on mother's milk for three months in organic farms, the yields of salable milk would otherwise not cover the dairy farmer's costs. A female calf is usually kept back as a dairy cow. A male calf is fattened to be slaughtered after about 1.5 years. After three to five pregnancies, the possible number of so-called lactations, the milk delivery, is also exhausted in organic milk cows. Then the cows are slaughtered.

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Applicable statutory provisions and voluntary regulations that comply with organic dairy farmers

Legislation governing the keeping of calves is laid down in the regulation on the protection of farmed animals and other animals kept for the production of animal products. For the awarding of the EU Organic Seal, compliance with the EC Organic Farm Regulation of 2014 is justified. The individual organic associations give themselves additional guidelines. A clear summary of the individual brands and the standards that apply to them can be found in the Milk Advisor of the World Animal Protection Society e.V.
Letztes Update: 08.07.2019 13:44