Kooiker’s advice is very clear “invest in strategies that protect your cows against stress. Don’t see this as a cost, but as an investment in healthier and more productive animals. You can never fully protect your cows against stress and cows must deal with this daily. It is not the biggest issue to lose some liters during a ration change, as long as the cows stay healthy. This is how you reduce the number of cows that are “underachieving” and so lowering the overall farm results.” Kooiker, referring to sport, explains “to achieve a high production it’s extremely important to keep the back of the peloton as small as possible”.
Products won’t do miracles, according to Kooiker. If a cow is eating 2 kg of dry matter less, 55 grams of OmniGen AF won’t compensate for that. It’s all about optimizing the framework and detecting the new weak links on your farm. On my farm, this was the cow’s immunity. Luckily this has clearly improved since the introduction of OmniGen AF, causing a big decrease in my overall drug usage and motivating me to trust my cow’s self-healing ability. If a cow has her optimum immunity level, she’s often capable of overcoming new infections.
“It’s an illusion to prevent heat stress all the time. The past years have proved that our summers are clearly getting hotter and hotter and so heat stress will become more common than ever.” Kooiker emphasizes that you should protect your cows against the heat, in order to prevent cows suffering from the consequences of heat stress, which can sometimes last until the winter.
By investing in different tools, like fans, but also in products with proven results against the negative effects of heat stress, my cows delivered fabulous results during the past 3 summer months, Kooiker testifies. “I’m not saying that they didn’t lose some liters during the heat period, but they clearly recovered quicker and the problems afterwards were less severe.”
Kooiker likes to emphasize that he pays a lot of attention to measurability of change and will analyse any new strategy that he instigates on to his farm. It’s obvious that there are always different factors that play a significant role in the farm’s productivity, but by doing regular analysis it becomes more clear which strategies are working well and which should be given extra attention. An important tool for me is my periodic antibiotic data analysis to get new insights on my antibiotic usage. By doing this, I’ve noticed a clear improvement in my antibiotic usage and therefore a very noticeable return on investment.
Would you like your farm to be assessed? Please contact our dairy technical specialist.