Type of company
Number of dairy cows
After a cow-signals course where cow behavior is watched and understood, Marcel Verwoerd decided it was time to switch to deep litter boxes. ‘Apply it to yourself. If you don’t rest well, you won’t walk faster afterward’.
It is a warm spring afternoon when we drive into Marcel Verwoerd’s yard in Bodegraven. We are greeted as usual by a sizeable guard dog alerting its owner that a stranger has arrived in the yard. ‘Good people!’ Once at the front door, the Rottweiler sniffs my trouser legs once more, judging whether or not he sees any danger in me. Fortunately, the latter turns out to be true and by now farmer Marcel is already in the doorway.
Since March 2022, a mobile Drybed manure separator has been running here, providing the mats of 65 dairy cattle with a lovely top layer. We first take a look at the new barn and then walk over to the mobile Keydollar Drybed. Mobile in the fact that both the separator and the pump are mounted on a cart allowing easy separation from multiple locations or pits. After the official photo opportunity where the farmer and separator pose, it is time to sit down for a chat.
‘As mentioned, my name is Marcel Verwoerd from Bodegraven. I have 65 dairy cows and 30 young stock on 30 hectares of land here. Since March, we have been spreading separated manure on the mat which used to be sawdust. After a course on cow signals in which it emerged that deep litter cubicles are best for the cow, I decided to convert my boxes to this soon and fill them with separated manure.’
‘During the cow signals course, it became clear that you have to look closely at the cow’s behaviour. Is she hurting herself, or is the mat too hard? A cow must be able to lie down within one minute. Why doesn’t she do that? You just want a cow to lie down 14 hours a day and if it doesn’t, it just costs production. How do you double the lifespan of a cow, how do you achieve that? Every wound, every bump you have to avoid. All that sort of thing.’
‘Just apply it to yourself. If you can’t rest properly, because of an uncomfortable bed, a painful wound or something like that, you’re not going to run faster afterwards either’.
‘So then I started looking for which type of litter would suit me best. That’s how I ended up with you. After I sent an email, an appointment was made with me fairly quickly. The contact with you is very good anyway. You can always call and you are on top of things, other companies can take an example from you.’
‘Since our channels are not connected, Klaas advised us to get a mobile Drybed. This way I can separate from different pits. We scatter once a week. Marcel adds with a laugh: ‘The first time the cows looked a bit strange when there was separated manure on their mat, but they soon lay down in it.’
When asked what the greatest advantages of manure separation are for Marcel, he answers: ‘Very sustainable, being your own boss, the comfort and convenience. We only feed grass here and have little structure in the manure, but the separator just separates that out. An additional advantage is a thin fraction that remains. After grazing, I go straight over it because it is so quickly absorbed by the grass!’
We would like to thank Marcel for his time and wish him the best of luck and enjoyment with his latest addition and the upcoming renovation!
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