Cornwall can claim a lot of things in its favour – the latest is being home to the happiest cows in the UK. A herd of dairy cows in the county are being pampered to ensure they produce milk in the most sustainable way – that means they get their own comfy mattresses, special walkways through fields and even their own app.

Kate Hoare is one of the 2,100 Arla dairy farmers in the UK who are working to create the future of sustainable dairy farming. Her farm homes over 100 cows and spans across 200 acres of land near Tideford. Her efforts provide a textbook example of producing milk in the most sustainable way using climate and nature friendly farming methods.

Kate has installed astro turf cow tracks throughout grazing fields, providing them with a comfy catwalk so they can strut their stuff, while grazing. This ensures maximum comfort and support for cows. She has also installed extra comfy mattresses on the cubicle beds, to help provide the cows with a better lying/resting environment. After all cows aren’t too dissimilar from us humans … a well-rested cow is a happy cow.

Kate has a special app on her phone, which records all the information about her herd – every cow is different – to provide a good, general database of information and learnings to continue to raise the UK’s happiest herds. She has also installed a HUGE rotating brush that keeps the cows groomed and cared for – not just a way to look good, but feel good as well.

Like many Arla farmer owners, she has completed the climate check programme for the last three years. The programme is a comprehensive and independent system for measuring carbon footprint on farm per litre of milk produced. Kate feels that there has always been a huge misconception about farming and farmers’ lack of empathy towards cows. However, after recently joining the farming life, she knows this couldn’t be further from the truth.

To ensure her business is viable, the cows must be in perfect condition to maintain their health (“a lot like an Olympic athlete”) but also supply a growing population with delicious and nutritious milk. Keeping a cow healthy is a fine balance between body condition, nutrition, environment and most importantly well-being, hence all the measures she’s installed on the family farm.

As the hot weather increased, Kate and her husband Kevin sunk their own borehole to make fresh drinking water readily available and also installed permanent drinking troughs in all grazing fields to keep the her hydrated.

To supply the tastiest and most nutritional milk to supermarkets across the UK, the cows at the start of the chain need to have the right amount of nutrients. Alongside this she works extremely closely with a nutritionist to supplement exactly the right amount of energy and fibre for the cows to perform and remain happy.

Likewise, the general health of a cow also needs to be monitored. Therefore, Kate’s farm has a fortnightly vet visit, which checks the health and status of the cows. She said: “It is vital for us to work alongside our vet, so that when challenges arise, we can then act on them. The cows have responded brilliantly to all the changes we have implemented, in terms of producing high quality milk for the nation and being overall a lot happier … what more can we ask for!”

Kate’s future plans are to grow on what she has already started. “There is so much more to learn and information to gather about how we can keep our cows happy and healthy, but I’m excited to learn and excited to grow. I really feel our cows have the utmost care and attention and they love to come and say hello and have a head scratch or tail scratch and nothing makes me prouder than that!!

“We are trying to farm the land as it needs to be farmed, which means balancing food production with protecting the environment. As Arla farmers, monitoring and minimising our carbon footprint is a priority and we will always keep looking for ways to improve.”

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