Barn audits by milk processors or evaluations for certifications that you seek as a dairy producer are becoming more frequent and more intense as consumer demand is setting standards for dairy practices and herd health. More and more frequently, we hear from our customers who have recently been audited because they want to share their excellent audit experiences.
In December a dairyman in Montana reached out to tell us that their auditor, who was also a veterinarian and nutritionist, already knew that the herd would be exceptional based on her experience seeing DCC Waterbeds at other dairies. Only 15 of the dairy’s 180 cows, the older cows, had slight hair loss, compared to 20%+ when the cows were on mats. He recounted the struggles he had with open sores, hair loss, and lameness on his previous flat-mat bedding.
This producer is one of many who report zero hock sores and high levels of cow comfort.
“We are part of a specialty milk program, so we have to be inspected each year [by a third party]. One of their stipulations was we have to have at least four inches of bedding if you have mattresses, and we use none. So, we didn’t think we were going to pass,” said Larry Baer of Marshalville, Ohio. Baer has 500 DCC Waterbeds. “The inspector came the first year and had never heard about waterbeds. She showed up at the farm at 9:30 in the morning and didn’t leave until 4 p.m. She looked at the barn, the facilities, the schedule, and closely at the cows. When we got the report back, we had passed with flying colors. We scored very, very high.”
The same story came out of Michigan:
“In 2012 when we went through the Michigan Milk Producers Association verification of cow comfort, we had just one cow out of 140 with markings and bruising on her hocks, but her twin sister had the same problem so it might have been a genetic thing. The rest of our cows have no bruising on their hocks,” said Steve Foley of Millington, Michigan. Foley has 336 DCC Waterbeds for his milking herd and heifers. “Also, they found that 99 percent of the cows show a normal locomotion and were standing properly. A lot of our cows are lying down, which tells you that they’re comfortable out there.”
It is a testament to the comfort of DCC Waterbeds that these outside consultants and evaluators are coming in and supporting what we know to be true with the data to back it up.
We continue to work to share the benefits of DCC Waterbeds with auditors and other industry professionals, so we can continue to help connect the dots between cow comfort, hock health, and DCC Waterbeds.