On Track for Progress

13 August 2019

Incorporating cow tracks into a dairy grazing system can increase herd productivity and profitability whilst helping Scotland work towards net-zero emissions.

Maximising grassland utilisation

Increasing grass utilisation can be a challenge for many farms in Scotland.  Once grass production has been maximised through improved soil, nutrient and grass variety mixes, the next step is to improve the grazing management.  Installing cow tracks can allow efficient movement of cattle across grazing ground to maximise grass offtake and encourage regrowth.  Efficiencies in grazing systems can ensure that increased quantities of higher quality forage can be produced to maximise production from grass.  In poor weather conditions, cow tracks can prevent damage to pasture and extend the season, particularly relevant with the recent extreme weather conditions experienced over the last couple of years.

Improve herd health, welfare and productivity

The use of cow tracks can improve herd mobility and keep cows cleaner.  Both of these will help to improve overall herd performance, productivity and milk quality.  Herd fertility can rise with decreases in lameness as can milk yields.  Cleaner udders can reduce the risk of mastitis and maintain milk quality through lower somatic cell counts ad incidences of mastitis, whilst good cow flow reduces stress levels for both the herd and the herdsperson.

Environment benefits

Environmentally the benefits of cow tracks also add up.  Efficient livestock systems improve the carbon footprint of milk or meat produced.  Preventing poaching at high traffic areas will reduce the risk of erosion, runoff and soil compaction, helping to prevent diffuse pollution to maintain water quality whilst complying with the General Binding Rules as part of cross-compliance.

Join us to learn more

We are holding a series of events for farmers in South West Scotland where we will explore how best to benefit from cow tracks.  Each event will offer the opportunity to hear from progressive dairy farmers who are benefitting from established cow track systems and a chance to view the tracks in-situ.

These events will focus on:

  • Cow track design and siting
  • Construction material options for cow tracks
  • Maintaining cow tracks
  • Grazing systems best suited to cow track systems
  • Managing lameness and locomotive scoring in the dairy herd

 

Join us at an event local to you to learn more.  Full details for each event is available through the links below:

Event LocationDate
Dunblane 29th August
Campbeltown4th September
Thornhill4th September
Stranraer12th September
Hurlford13th September

If you can’t make these meetings and have questions about cow tracks then call our helpline on 0300 323 0161 or email advice@fas.scot.


Useful links

Related Downloads
AHDB: Healthy Feet – Cow Tracks
This is a copy of the 2017 AHDB Healthy Feet - Cow Tracks booklet.
Topics: Dairy Cattle and Environment

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