How do you improve the lifestyle of producers by enhancing cow welfare?
Whether they own 2 cows or 2,000 cows, farmers are extremely busy people. They have animals to nurture, a business to run and a family to support. All of these have multiple demands and priorities can be easily distracted. So the key to making significant changes is to keep focus on whichever is the primary need. Inspire Cattle Solutions excels at this, in any geography!
The best question to ask any producer is the “magic wand” question: “If you had just one wish, what would you change about the management of your farm?”. This nearly always produces a surprising result. As a vet, you expect “reduce disease” or “make more money” to be the obvious answers. However, in my experience, it is often something very different. “Spend more time with my children at weekends”; “Improve communication between my family members that run the farm with me”; “Allow me to provide more facilities for my poor village labourers” are just a few of the answers I have come across.
So how do you translate this into improving cow welfare? Often, making cows more comfortable or reducing their risks of disease have knock-on effects on productivity: more milk, better quality milk and better fertility for another healthy lactation after the present one. Learning how to make changes and SHOW the value from these is the key to excellent consulting.
Ensuring that everyone is aligned with definitions of diseases and risks is the first step. If you can define and measure things, you can manage them efficiently. Now, you can measure the current situation in order to tell what position you are in at the start. When this is done, you can look towards the data you have collected in order to find a single, most important priority point to fix: mastitis? heat abatement? ketosis? communication? training? Then you can design a project around that priority.
Making sure that everyone is accountable and responsible for their own components of this project is the next stage: “WHO does WHAT by WHEN”. Communication is always improved by ensuring that everyone is kept up to date throughout the project regularly: this is where good consultancy really excels!
When a project is complete, re-evaluate all of the key data, ALWAYS connecting back to the original issue. If for example, this was about fixing ketosis, then obviously show ketosis data but many times, the original “magic wand” wish was something else: so if it was “spend more time with the kids”, make sure you measured the amount of time spent at the start and at the end: after all, this is what the customer wanted!
Examples of Inspire Cattle Solutions’ consultancy have been:
- $1.6M more saleable milk per year by improving cow cooling (Pakistan)
- This project also allowed producers to give their poor labourers better accommodation, a canteen to ensure they weren’t hungry and a sports field on some farms
- Changing lives of producers by doubling milk income which allowed their children to have access to education for the first time in their generation (East Africa)
- Allowing farmers more time at weekends by not having to fix so many sick cows by reducing ketosis (UK)
There are many others.