Scotland's inaugural Dairy Health and Welfare Conference, held on Thursday 3 December at Crichton Royal Farm, Dumfries, has put cow care at the very heart of Scottish milk production.
The 'Talking Health and Welfare' event, held jointly by NFU Scotland, SAC and DairyCo, was the first of its kind to focus specifically on dairy cows and saw more than 100 Scottish dairy farmers and their staff turnout to meet with industry experts.
Opening the event, NFU Scotland President Jim McLaren said:
"There are challenges and rewards for all Scottish dairy farmers in ensuring that their cows are continually well cared for. The message that happy, healthy, comfortable cows are also the most profitable cows is one that has already hit home with our producers.
"Scottish dairy farmers recognise that to make a living from producing milk in the current price climate has led to pressure to keep more cows, and to produce more milk from each and every animal. In that process of restructuring dairy farming businesses, our farmers have not compromised the health and welfare of their cows.
"The success of this conference demonstrates that farmers and the industry as a whole are dedicated to putting the health and welfare of dairy cows as the foundation stone of their business. To achieve that, dairy farmers receive fantastic back-up from specialists such as SAC, DairyCO and the Barony College who have the very latest in scientific research and management techniques which are being implemented and adopted by producers to further improve the health and welfare of dairy cows.
"The research and knowledge transfer that these organisations undertake is of immense relevance to dairy farmers and we must make every effort to ensure that this work finds its way onto dairy farms and is implemented in practical terms.
"The modern dairy sector is highly technical and to maintain good welfare and a decent level of profitability on dairy farms then the industry must continue to take a collaborative approach to the challenges. Our objective in setting up this event was to bring together all stakeholders, farmers and their staff, Scottish Government, private and public vets, researchers and advisors and all sectors of the dairy trade to further improve the outstanding work, the industry is undertaking. That effort has been rewarded with a fantastic turnout at a landmark conference."