Cows in the South West have seen their milk yields dramatically increase due to an unusual fitness regime.
The UK’s much-loved Cheddar brand, Pilgrims Choice, has installed a fleet of custom-built bovine treadmills at its West Country Vintage Farmhouse producer, Parkham Farms, to give the 1,000 strong herd of cows a daily dose of exercise, whilst reducing boredom and stimulating their milk production…
The treadmills, which weigh in at almost half a ton, allow each animal to regulate its own speed, from a brisk walk to a more demanding trot. After a month of daily activity on the treadmills, the cows are collectively producing almost twice the amount of milk than they were before their exercise regime started.
A spokesman for Pilgrims Choice said:
“We installed the first treadmill during the freezing weather conditions at the end of last year to ensure our herd received some real exercise. As humans, we all know that a regular fitness regime keeps us healthy, and we wanted to see if this philosophy could be applied to cows, too. This is part of our on-going programme of welfare development.
We soon found that those cows which had used the treadmill were producing greater milk yields than those who hadn’t. We installed a second treadmill in January and the positive results continued. Now we have 10 custom-built treadmills and the cows use them in rotation.
Each cow spends an hour on the treadmill. At the head of each treadmill there is a trough for hay and water so the cows can graze at the same time – if they have the energy!
Not only have we found that fitter cows produce more milk, but also that the milk is frothier and creamier. As a result, we expect to significantly increase our cheese production in the coming year.
Parkham Farms is planning to expand its fitness facilities with the installation of a further six treadmills and, potentially, a shallow 25 metre swimming pool.