Commune for cows

12 February 2009

What would a dairy farm look like if it were up to the cows? According to the Animal Sciences Group of Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Louis Bolk Institute and twenty dairy farmers, the cows would form families. A new-style barn is currently under development.

Calves that stay with their mothers for a number of months. Milk-producing and non-milk producing cows that stay together. And a barn with flooring that is better for the hooves of the cows and calves. These are a few of the points of reference of the researchers and the farmers for cow-friendly dairy farming. Changes in the structure of the group lead to unrest. This is why it is a good idea to keep families or pairs of about sixty cows together in a stable environment, says researcher Ingrid van Dixhoorn of ASG. “The current dairy farming system is not geared to this”, she explains. With the help of an architect, a barn is currently being developed with a central area and units. Practice centre, Aver Heino, of Wageningen  University and Research Centre wants to build the new type of barn this year.