Swedish dairy farm has no lame excuses!

WILSONS LAMENESS RI Farm

BENGT Gustafsson runs a very successful dairy operation in Horn, Sweden. He has expanded from approximately 600 cows in 2014 to over 900 last year.

The Swedish dairyman visited Northern Ireland in 2013 to view dairies here and was inquisitive about their milk yields and number of lame cows. All of his cows are pedigree Holstein yielding an average in excess of 12,000 litres and back in 2013 out of that number he only had seven lame cows.

Good Management – His routine involved trimming and checking 150 cows’ feet every 6-8 weeks. He made it a routine exercise, plus solid floors in his building ensured that he could rubber every passage in the building that he erected in 2004. His cows are housed all year round and milked three times per day through an internal rotary parlour.

Soft Floors – In 2014 he purchased zig-zag rubber from Wilson Agri Ltd. His intention was to rubber only the walkway next to the feed passage however when he noticed that the steel reinforced zig-zag rubber was less expensive than the available sources or new reinforced rubber in Sweden, it was within his budget to put rubber on every passage.

Cow Mattress – This building was then kitted out with C50 post mounted cubicles from Wilson’s, also Pasture Mat with 30mm premium pad. Lameness is affected by swollen and damaged hocks, so Bengt didn’t think that the traditional 35mm foam and 5mm rubber top cover that he had in his existing building was good enough by comparison.

After visiting farms in Northern Ireland that had seen a two litre per cow per day increase in milk by adding the premium pad to existing Pasture Mats, Cozy Cow or replacing other mattresses with the complete system, he decided that it was the product for his cows. (Wisconsin university study shows two-hour increase in resting time for lame cows on Pasture Mat with the pad added).

Andrew and Gareth Wilson flew out to visit his farm earlier this year, exactly a year on from his installation date, to see how the product was performing and view the company’s first installation in Sweden. They were pleased as not only did Bengt show them his facility which boasts high levels of cow comfort, which compliments his attention to detail and stockmanship, but he toured them around other dairies in Sweden.

Sometimes a dairyman, when Bengt wasn’t present, would get Andrew and Gareth’s attention and would say they can’t get down to the levels of lameness that Bengt has achieved or the high milk yields. They were all keen to listen to his advice and look to his farm for what they would install or change next.

Cubicle division design – On the last afternoon of their stay, Bengt walked the Wilson brothers into his old building that was put up in 2005 and said: “I want a price to change this”. Andrew asked why, when it’s only 10 years old. Bengt said it’s not working like the new building and the increase in production will not be long in paying for the change. So at present, Bengt is installing over 350 post mount Cowcoons into his building in Horn, Sweden.

A damaged spine, hook or pin bone will affect how much more a cow will walk on one back foot as opposed to the other.

What she rests against is vitally important. After a study at Liverpool university in 2013, Wilson Agri was shown the results that the removal of its super comfort cow cubicles, only five years old, and replaced with Cowcoons resulted in a group of 80 cows going from 50 per cent

of them having some form of slight mark or a clearly visible injury, to 0 per cent in just four months.

By replacing the steel cubicles in Bengt’s older building with Cowcoons and laying Zig Zag rubber on his collection area for the first time Wilsons hopes to see if it can get his level of lameness in his herd down to less than one per cent.

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