Cow Welfare – the Afimilk way

Pinhas Gur, Afimilk, Israel 

For the past three decades S.A.E Afikim has been the industry leader in dairy farm technology and advancement, introducing innovative equipment for data collection, processing and management that enables dairy farmers on any scale to improve their managerial skills. S.A.E Afikim initially emerged into the dairy world with the first electronic Milk Meter and the development of the first heat detection pedometer.

The principles guiding the corporate philosophy:

  • A strong bond of trust and cooperation with dairy farmers
  • Managerial thinking
  • Commitment to results
  • Friendliness and simplicity
  • Promoting the new dairy farming industry

The company’s aspiration is to be the leading factor in a dairy farm’s success.

In today’s harsh business environment, dairy farming must first and foremost look at the bottom line, but if we dig deeper and look at the most successful dairy farms around the globe we find that management in these same farms enters additional factors into their “success equation”.

An understanding of cattle psychology combined with well-designed facilities, electronic sensors to collect essential data and software that performs intelligent analysis of the overall data will reduce stress on both you and your cattle.

Cow welfare has become an integral part of better-quality management.

The afimilk concept of Herd Management incorporates elements of Cow Welfare in many of its developments and applications. The system enables the dairy farm manager to adhere to the EU Council’s Dairy Cattle Welfare guidelines: 

  1. Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition
  2. Freedom from discomfort
  3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease
  4. Freedom to express normal patterns of behavior
  5. Freedom from fear and distress

Furthermore, added scrutiny of cow behavior, health and performance contribute to management solutions for those who choose biological farming.

  • AfiSort allows for Automatic sorting of cows for treatment or insemination when they exit the parlor to a “hospital pen” where water and fresh food awaits them involves no labor cost or cow stress. They are quickly taken care of and sent back to their pens.
    The scenario in a farm without AfiSort: cows are gathered from their pens for treatment or insemination to a “hospital pen”. The cows are either eating or ruminating – doing their job quietly producing more milk for us – and two or three people looking for a few cows disturb the routine of 150 cows. This causes cow stress and costs us money in lost milk and labor. Self-closing fenceline stanchions are commonly used for post-calving and pregnancy checks, vaccinations and artificial inseminations. Most often the whole group is tied up, when actually only a few animals require attention. A long waiting period, standing on a concrete floor after the milking is detrimental to cow welfare. 
  • One of S.A.E Afikim’s new developments is the Lying Meter. The aim of the Lying Meter is to improve cow comfort and welfare. The Lying Meter is in its final trial phase. The Meter has all the capabilities of the standard pedometer in addition to a new sensor collecting precious information for the dairy farmer. The first model of the Lying Meter will be displayed at the Agritech 2006 Show. The characterization of the lying phase, its frequency and length will provide data for improved feeding strategy, cow grouping, monitoring health, fertility and factors hampering normal cow behavior. At each milking the Meter’s data is collected and analyzed by the AfiFarm software. The final output is reports and alerts contributing to improved overall management and cow welfare.
    The Lying Meter is a true “Green” product, free of toxic materials. All its components, including the battery are disposable. 
  • The AfiFarm software allows for monitoring of Milking Efficiency. The Milking Efficiency reports and graphs are not just tools for increasing the productivity of the milking parlor. You can implement a good milking routine and monitor your milkers. Optimal adherence to the routine means better udder health, better milk let down, less strain from over milking and less stress from poor handling in the parlor. Reducing stress is important because stress reduces the ability to fight disease, damages rumen function, depresses milk production and can interfere with reproduction. An animal’s previous experiences will affect its stress reaction to handling. 
  • The ICAR approved Milk Meters provide accurate milk measurement and provide stable vacuum and pulsation control under high milk flows. The wide array of Milk Meter parameters allow for fine tuning your cows’ milking and thus contribute to udder health. 
  • afimilk™ measures milk production and milk conductivity via the Milk Meters, the AfiFarm software alerts you to any deviation in the performance of the cow, thus allowing early treatment and speedy recovery from udder disease. Early warning of potential mastitis allows for preventive care and greatly decreases the amount of medicine use. 
  • The AfiLab is an on-line measurement device, designed to detect and sample biochemical components in milk. Its primary contribution to cow welfare is based on more accurate detection of metabolic disease. Fat/Protein Ratio from AfiLab in conjunction with a Risk Factors Model based on Animal Data identifies animals prone to metabolic disease. Preventive care and ration adjustments can be made accordingly to decrease animal suffering and guarantee maximum milk production. 
  • Within the framework of AfiEnterprise’s turn key projects our approach is to actively contribute to society and protect the global environment/resources as a corporate citizen of the world. We provide complete dairy farm installation and integration and customized infrastructure solutions in which environmental issues and animal welfare are of the highest priority.

Of course there are additional factors for good animal welfare: Housing, holding pen surface mats, cooling and ventilation, parasite control, hoof care and a good dedicated team of workers. The new dairy farmer must understand economics, biology, animal behavior, veterinary science, management, logistics, business management and more…

A good manager knows what is best for the business when he looks at the numbers. A good dairy farmer also understands that dairy management is a business founded on attending to and understanding the animals. Cow welfare is vital.

Therefore, a good dairy farmer must not only know how to measure and manage, he must also know how to listen and respect

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