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Emily Lampa teams up with an Animal Well-Being Specialist!

"Workin' It" on a local farm for National AG Week
Posted at 5:49 PM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 14:00:55-04

NORTH COLLINS, N.Y. (WKBW) — What do workout enthusiasts and cows have in common?

Fitness trackers!

Cows rocking neck band activity trackers is all about making cow care so much easier and efficient.

From GPS on tractors, to automation in the milking parlors - technology plays a major role in dairy farming being efficient and sustainable. According to the American Dairy Association, the carbon footprint of a glass of milk is one third of what it was 70 years ago.

Madison Hopcia, an Animal Well-Being Specialist with the Upstate Niagara Cooperative says, "It eliminates the farmer having to come out all the time and walk through all the cows, which yes, you want to see them every day, but this can help be more time efficient."

She adds, "(The famer is) not looking at 1,400 different cows. (They've) got maybe a select ten that (they) got to see today that showed temperature increase or she hasn’t been walking as much...she’s not eating as much. You can pinpoint your energy and your time to where those cows need you most."

Hopcia works with the veterinarians, the farmers, as well as their employees. She also helps evaluate the cows. She says the farm program is used to ensure that dairy farmers take care of their animals, their land and their employees in a humane and ethical manner.

She travels to all 280 farms within the cooperative, checking things out. Well-Being Specialists use the information from tech to supplement their inspections, but they still closely observe each and every cow on the farm during their visits.

On the Phillips Family Farm, there are 1,400 mature milking age cows and 1,200 younger animals. Feeding, milking, resting and cleaning follows a very precise schedule. Farmer Dave Phillips says when the cows leave the pen to go to the milking parlor, that’s when they clean the stalls, clean out the floors and get everything ready for when the cows return.

All the cows get periodic check-ups, vaccinations, and treatment when they need it.

You want a healthy robust cow," explains Hopcia, "who can produce the most that she can. And if you falter in any of that, the components of the milk might be off, her production might be lower. Their farmers care for them. It’s their livelihood, and they want the best for their animals, as well."