Cow Signals workshops help improves farmers understanding of their cows

Published 3 July 18


IMG_1280Dairy farmers can improve the health and production of their cows by making small changes to their buildings that encourage them to express their natural behaviour.

That was the key message from Master Trainer Rob Davies at the first of many Cow Signals workshops organised by AHDB Dairy in mid-June.

The meetings support AHDB’s optimal dairy systems programme which is helping farmers’ lower costs and increase efficiencies.

Rob said: “Cows always tell the truth. Understanding the signals they give out can help farmers manage stress and produce happier healthier cows who live longer and are less prone to disease”.”

As well as explaining a cows’ physical and behavioural indications, the workshop included a practical session in the sheds where farmers could try out their observation skills.

Dairy farmer Mark Wood, who attended the workshop, said, “I really enjoyed the day. A lot of what Rob said was common sense, but sometimes it helps look at things from a fresh perspective. A lot of little things can make a big difference and sometimes those little things need pointing out.

“The workshop has made me think about what to look at back at home. I’m definitely going to be looking at my feed barrier placement, to stop neck rubbing, which will hopefully improve feed intakes. In the future I would also like to look at lighting and lux figures, to try and improve feed intakes even more”. 

Cows should spend on average 14 hours lying, six hours feeding, two hours socialising and two hours milking a day, doing a little of each of these in two hour cycles.

“Uncomfortable beds, lack of easy access to feed and water or poor ventilation can all disrupt a cow’s natural behaviour and cause stress,” continued Rob.

“Farmers should focus on bedding and feed as this is where cows spend most of their time. It’s not always possible to make lots of changes at once so you have to think about what is going to have the biggest impact for the lowest cost.”

There are spaces left on the Cow Signals workshops taking place throughout July and August. More details and booking can be found at:


Date 2018




10th July

Clackmae Farm, Earlston, Scottish Borders, TD4 6AJ

Owen Atkinson

Bryan Nicholson

11th July

Newgrove Farm, Blackford, Wedmore, Somerset.

BS28 4NH

Andy Hawken

Michael Hardcastle

12th July

Bineham City Farm, Knole, Long Sutton, Langport Somerset. TA10 9JF

Andy Hawken

Michael Hardcastle

13th July

Gwyns Barn, Leighton, Welshpool, Powys, SY21 8LL

Rob Davies

Steve West

16th July

Carpenters Farm, Avon, Chippenham, Wiltshire.

SN15 4LS

Andy Hawken

Michael Hardcastle

17th July

Abbot’s Manor Dairy, The Waitrose Farm, Leckford, Hampshire, SO20 6DA

Andy Hawken

Michael Hardcastle



Borough Green Farm, Middlesborough, Cleveland.

 TS9 6JJ

Jo Speed

Bryan Nicholson


Dendoldrum Farm, Montrose, Inverbervie, Angus, Aberdeenshire. DD10 0PL.

Jo Speed

Bryan Nicholson

9th August

Strandhead Farm, Tarbolton, Mauchline, Ayrshire, KA5 5NP

Owen Atkinson

Bryan Nicholson



Home Farm, Spittle on the street, Market Rasen, Lincolnshire. LN8 2AU

Lowri Davies

Steve West

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