Getting more milk out of dairy cows might mean lengthening their productive lives. But, a dairy specialist at the University of Kentucky says more attention today centers on ‘longevity.’ Jeffrey Bewley says a cow typically lives about five or six years and, if healthy, produces three calves. “We’re shifting more toward research focused on improving longevity, improving the well being of the animal, improving the health of the animal, reproductive performance. So, there’s a lot more work in those areas than there is on just increasing milk production,” said Bewley.
Bewley says research at UK has included work on ‘cross breeding.’ He says there has also been an emphasis on making the dairy cow as comfortable as possible..
“At the University of Kentucky dairy right now we have some research that looks at the use of water beds as a resting surface for the cows so we’re looking at how those water beds in their stalls may help improve their feet and leg health.. and improve their ability to rest and longevity and so forth,” added Bewley.
In Kentucky, the Holstein is the predominant breed of dairy cow, followed by the Jersey.