When visiting a livestock farm, I always try to get a clear picture of the daily practice on the farm.
My working method consists of “observing, registering and, (together with the farmer), analyzing and evaluating.
It is interesting to see and hear how the farmer reacts to, and thinks about the animals.
The interaction between the farmer and his livestock provides a lot of objective information about this.
A good indicator for analysis is the degree of stress response in cattle. Stress reactions as an expression of fear reactions.
Animals see humans from various angles:
* as a potential danger,
* not interesting,
* "two-legged feeder",
* or as an ally and social partner.
In practice, I often see large differences in production levels achieved by livestock farmers.
Even with the same farm type, management style, nutrition, breeding, etc.
Stress reactions also influence the production results here. Stress reduces milk production and growth!
A good example are the differences in total milking time and milk yield between one milker and another on the same dairy farm.
Dairy farm managers who work with external workers will recognize this and see it in their daily production figures.
A negative attitude of the milker is directly reflected in a negative behavior of the animal. The result of all this is a decrease in production and in welfare.
Fear and stress cause (as a completely natural reaction), a negative behavior in the animal. The milker therefore has less patience, which is then reflected in an even worse attitude towards the animal.
There is a (negative) vicious circle in the human-animal relationship.
This negative vicious circle can change due to a changing attitude of the milker. If the behavior of the milker, farmer or caretaker changes positively, the behavior of the animals will also change positively and the welfare of humans and animals will increase over time.
Did you know that stress and anxiety play an important role in the occurrence of mastitis and lameness in dairy cows?
Due to the increasing robotization and automation within the (dairy) livestock sector, there is less and less contact between humans and animals.
And if there is any contact with animals, it is often a negative interaction that causes fear and stress in livestock. This includes dehorning, trimming claws, vaccinating, loading etc.
It is not surprising that due to the increasing automation and mechanization within livestock farming, the balance often turns in the negative direction. With more fear and stress in animals, and sometimes a decrease in animal welfare, safety and job satisfaction.