For 15 years CONO dairy farmers have been making their farms more sustainable through the Caring Dairy sustainability program. Almost all members of the cooperative now participate in this program. The continuous improvement program aims to promote sustainability on the dairy farm and have a positive impact on the environment. This is done through the workshop program and through Rewarding by Results. Good results were achieved in the past year in this regard.
CONO cows age healthier
An important focus of the program is the promotion of animal welfare. A cow is a grazing animal and, as far as CONO is concerned, is in the pasture as much as possible where she can eat lots of fresh, protein-rich grass and exhibit her natural behavior. In 2022, CONO cows grazed in pastures for an average of 191 days of more than 10 hours. This is an increase of 11 days compared to 2021.
Animal welfare at CONO is not only about natural behavior, but also about paying a lot of attention to the health of the cow. Cows that live longer in good health are good for both the dairy farmer and the climate. In addition to better animal welfare, it also means lower methane emissions per liter of milk, which is better for the environment. At CONO, the average lifespan of dairy cows in 2022 was 2290 days, or 6 years and 3 months. The lifespan of our cows has been increasing since 2017. In addition to cows getting older, they need fewer antibiotics. Last year this was 2.09 animal-day doses; we aim for this to be 2.0 or less by 2025. In the process, the healthy calves indicator has been improving for 5 years in a row.
Better climate & environment
Lowering the footprint is another priority of the program. Within the better climate & environment theme, nitrogen soil surplus increased in 2022 partly because crop yields in 2022 were lower than the previous year. In addition, the results of indicators related to ammonia and greenhouse gases showed improvement. Furthermore, more than half of all CONO dairy farmers now generate their own energy, which accounts for 40% of the total electricity consumption of the dairy farm.
More visitors to the farm
In addition to its animal welfare and environmental protection efforts, CONO also focuses on the social role of the farmer in society with Caring Dairy. In 2022, members were again allowed to receive more visitors to their farms through, for example, their farm store, during a Day at the Farm and through farm education.
Want to learn more about the Caring Dairy sustainability program? Read more here.