‘Cow whisperer’ comes to Holsworthy

Thursday, December 12, 2013
10:21 AM

Special training workshop held at Bridgerule to help farmers understand what their cows are saying to them...

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PICTURED at the Holsworthy event are Mike Feneley, partner at Haines Watts Rural Business, host farmer Richard Bray, Lucy Thomas of Haines Watts Rural Business LLP and David Wilde, certified CowSignals trainer.PICTURED at the Holsworthy event are Mike Feneley, partner at Haines Watts Rural Business, host farmer Richard Bray, Lucy Thomas of Haines Watts Rural Business LLP and David Wilde, certified CowSignals trainer.

DAIRY farmers were introduced to their industry’s version of the horse whisperer – or perhaps ‘cow whisperer’ - at a special event in Holsworthy, Devon.

The bespoke CowSignals workshop was organised by Haines Watts Rural Business LLP and held at Shernick Farm, Bridgerule in Holsworthy, a family farm run by Trevor and Ingrid Bray, their son Richard plus a dairy herd of 350 cows.

The training day yesterday (Tuesday) attracted 50 dairy farmers from across Devon and Cornwall, keen to learn more about the CowSignals technique of observing the cow’s body language and translating it to management.

The basis of the training is to observe cow’s body language and translate it to management to help prevent disease and have happy cows.

Local dairy farmers gather to improve their knwoledge of bovine behaviour.Local dairy farmers gather to improve their knwoledge of bovine behaviour.

It lays a solid foundation for the management of farms and helps to demonstrate how to monitor and improve management to ensure that farmers and cows are achieving optimum health, performance and welfare.

The day was sponsored by Cornish Mutual and Harpers Home Mix Ltd with funding accessed via Healthy Livestock.

The CowSignals concept was developed by Jan Hulsen and Joep Drissen of training company Vetvice based in the Netherlands and is active in over 45 countries.

Haines Watts Rural Business appointed CowSignals trainer David Wilde of Massey Feeds, sister firm to Harpers Home Mix Ltd, as the trainer for the day.

The group looked at cows, and David demonstrated where farmers can learn to pick up the cow’s signals and use them effectively.

“It gives a fascinating insight into what the cow is telling us and what small changes may make a world of difference to her,” he said.

“Cows give out signals all the time about the environment in which they are living and whether they are happy or discontent. Cows don’t know how to lie and the purpose of the training day was to educate farmers to recognise the host of signals they give and to recognise how they are feeling

“An example would be - are we doing the best we can in the housing area during winter to mimic the natural and healthy outdoor environment? Content and comfortable cows who are eating well provide better milk and higher fertility, which is something farmers should take very seriously.”

Host farmer Richard Bray added: “We have developed a long-term relationship with Haines Watts Rural Business who have helped us make improvements to the farm and also as importantly tell us what we are doing right in order to grow the business so, we were more than happy to host this event on their behalf.

“It was a great day and a fascinating subject. The group were all progressive farmers who saw the benefits of giving up a day working on their farms to get invaluable expertise and knowledge from an expert on how we can make our herds more comfortable and have happier and healthier cows. It was also a good opportunity to talk to fellow-farmers and share information.”

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