Cow comfort in relation to milk yield on pasture based dairy herds in Uruguay
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Nowadays, animal welfare is an increasingly important topic in political discussions. Farmers need to maintain high producing dairy herds without compromising on animal welfare. The aim of this study is to describe the positive correlation between animal welfare (“cow comfort”) and milk yield. In a 5 week survey, 40 pasture-based dairy farms in Uruguay were visited in October 2012 in order to compare a set of milk production parameters to a cow comfort score. In Uruguay cows are kept on pasture so to score cow comfort a pasture based cow comfort scoring system was used. This scoring system was derived from the barn based cow comfort scoring system developed by Van Eerdenburg. Information about the milk yield was obtained by either digitally stored information or by milking parlour notes. A significant correlation (r=0.405, p=0.01) is found between fat corrected milk production of October 2012 and the cow comfort result. Further analysis indicated that 16% of the variation in milk production could be explained for by the cow comfort score. This correlation is similar to the one reported for dairy cows kept in barns.