15 Jul 2010

Dutch expert teaches farmers to read body language of cows

6:53 am on 15 July 2010

A Dutch vet known as the "cow whisperer" is in New Zealand to teach farmers how to read the body language of their animals to keep them healthy and happy and be top-notch milk producers.

Dr Joep Dreissen, from the Cow Signals Training company in Holland, is in New Zealand for a South Island winter stockmanship roadshow organised by Dairy NZ.

He says the company runs courses in more than 40 countries and has found only 20% of farmers are very good at reading the signals from their cows.

As well as knowing how to assess cows' state of health from their body language, Dr Dreissen says it's important for farmers to talk to their cows - but that doesn't mean shouting at them.

"They really don't like shouting," he says. "If you call them and not shout, they will come."

He also says research has found women get a lot more milk from cows because they are gentle and have a soft voice.

Dr Dreissen also advocates providing shelter for cows, especially in winter time, to help keep them healthy and contented. Barns or herd homes need a deep layer of straw or other material to provide a dry resting place, he says.