The Principles of Cow Signals

I thought I would share with you the principles of Cow Signals so you had a better understanding of why the theory is a proven training course which when implemented will improve your herd longevity, increase milk yield and your bank balance. 

The theory is understanding your cows and how they behave, put yourself in their hooves and watch their behaviour around the barn and out at pasture. The goal is to increase your herd longevity, which in turn will increase milk production and reduce your replacement rate.

The principles are all based around the Cow Signals Diamond which is illustrated below.  

  • Light – is there sufficient light in the barn for cows and people?  A very easy way to check is to read a newspaper whilst sitting on the cows’ beds, 180 to 200 lux is needed for 18 to 20 hours 24 hour period for housed milking cows to optimise dry matter intakes and heat cycles to name two important facts.
  • Air – how fresh is the air in the barn?  Easy indicator is to stand outside and feel and smell the fresh air, then do the same in the barn.  There should be no difference.
  • Rest – do you see waiting cows in the alleys?  If you do, why?  Is there one bed for each cow?  Cows should lie down for 14 hours in 24 hours and at least 70% should be ruminating = making milk!
  • Space – the herd should be equally spaced around the barn; they should be able to socialise without conflict.  Are there any dead ends?  Cows feel uncomfortable if they become trapped by their herd mates.
  • Feed – Can cows all eat at the same time?  Is there enough space for each cow to eat when she is feeling hungry?  The feed should be spread evenly across the feed table with no empty areas because the feed wagon cannot reach.  Rumen fill should be a score of a minimum of 3 constantly.
  • Water – there should be one drinker per 20 cows that fills at the minimum of 20 litres/minute.  When was the last time the drinkers were cleaned out?  Milk is 88% water so any restriction or contamination will have an impact on consumption and production.

Improving cow comfort does not have to involve investing large sums of money but if they are happy and content, then they will repay you in milk, reduced lameness, mastitis and improved fertility, therefore a happy farmer!

To understand how to apply the principles to your herd and improve your farm profit, contact Mark at  or Tel: 07773 027999.