Pampered Norwegian cows producing more milk

A relaxed cow in Norway. Photo:

Comfortable Norwegian cows are producing more milk and have less udder infections since new regulations allowing them to relax for up to half a day on soft rubberized mattresses were introduced, reports Reuters.

Since 2004 it was no longer permitted to build tie-stall barns in Norway, and from Jan. 1, 2024 it will no longer be permitted to even use existing ones. This situation has thus led to widespread construction of new dairy cattle barns. Prior to the 2024 deadline, it is expected that nearly 5000 loose housing facilities will be constructed.

The project “Dairy Cattle Kept in Loose Housing Systems” (“Kubygg”) was initiated in December 2005. The project is a cooperation between the departments of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences (IHA) and Mathematical Sciences and Technology (IMT) at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB), the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science (NVH) and the Nord Trøndelag University College (HiNT). The project is funded by the Agricultural Research Fund, the Research Council of Norway and national budget allocations. The project’s budget framework totals NOK 16 million for the period 2005-2010. Its main goal is to optimise barn layout and the selection of materials and construction methods so that good animal health and welfare can be combined with low construction costs.

“Kubygg” allow the cows to move more freely and lie down on a softer surface. But “Liggebås” is not a new thing in Norway. The stalls have been used for more than 50 year.

“They lie about half of the day, which is natural for them,” doctoral student Lars Erik Ruud at UMB at Ås, south of Oslo, told Reuters after researching the impact of the rules, the first of their kind in the world.

“Production increases by 5-6 percent,” Ruud said, explaining that a more relaxed lifestyle boosted the volume of blood flowing through the cows’ udders, which meant more liters of milk produced from each cow. But the stalls also have a drawback, he said, as the relaxed cows’ hooves do not naturally wear down as they would if in contact with a hard surface.

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