The Relation between Milk Production and Cow Comfort in Greece
Gastel, M.E. van
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Animal welfare is very important these days. Consumers are more aware of what they eat and demand for transparency of production of animal production. Farmers also want their animals to live a good life. It is well known that poor health and poor housing cause stress to cows and stress will lower the milk production. So the current idea is that good cow comfort will result in better milk production. In this study, the cow comfort of 36 farms was scored using the Cow Comfort Scoring System and the total score and all chapters and items of this system were compared with milk production parameters. The parameters used are the Fat Corrected Milk production (FCM), milk fat percentage and milk protein percentage. The total score of the system did not correlate at the 0.05 level with the FCM (P = 0.096 and R = 0.295). But since the data used for the biggest chapter of the scoring system, animal health and feeding, was not very reliable, the score for this chapter was excluded and the trend became more clear and the correlation larger; the P of FCM goes to 0.073. The correlation between the total scoring and the milk fat percentage also became larger this way; the P went from 0.568 to 0.162. Comparison of the FCM with the cow comfort chapter and items showed several significances. FCM was significant with the chapter water (P = 0.012; R = 0.431), the item number of water places (P = 0.015; R = 0.420) and the item contamination of the feeding (P = 0.008; R = 0.456). There also was a correlation between FCM and the item claws (P = 0.001; R = 0.536). Furthermore, there was a negative correlation between FCM and the items period of light (P = 0.026; R = -0.388) and period of darkness (P = 0.006; R = -0.470). The milk fat percentage was negatively correlated to the chapter light (P = 0.013; R = -0.427) and the item sufficient light (P = 0.045; R = -0.346) and the milk protein percentage was negatively correlated to item claws (P = 0.023; R = -0.454). The hypothesis of this study was that the milk production parameters would be correlated to the total score of the Cow Comfort Scoring System and possibly also to the different chapters and items of the system. But only a few significant correlations were observed and some of the correlations are not clear yet. This is because during this study, only 36 farms could be scored. To draw proper conclusions, a larger number of farms is necessary.