Animal welfare is, besides profitability, a key point in dairy production. On the Mustiala farm the animals have a lot of contact with people. The cows are calm and easy to handle. This plays a central role in their welfare, keeping their stress levels low.
Environmental conditions affect significantly to the welfare of cattle. In the Mustiala cowhouse the space requirements of organic production are met and surpassed. The cows can choose to go out all year round. The cows lie down comfortably on stall mats kept dry with automatically spread peat bedding. The stall structures have been designed with a view of cow comfort. The feeding area floor has rubber surface.
There are three group pens for calving or sick cows. It is also possible to divide the pen if an animal needs to be separated from the others. Deep litter bedding made of straw and peat is used to provide a non-slip, warm lying area. There is a separate milking system for the pens so that the cows don’t have to be moved to be milked.
In the calf area there are individual pens with solid floors, warm bedding and heat lamps for the youngest calves. The partitions can be removed so that the small calves can get to know their neighbour and can move on to the group pen with a friend, which makes finding their place in the group less stressful. The group pens have deep litter. Positive pressure ventilation in the calf area prevents possible transmission of airborne infectants from the cow area. In organic production the calves are fed with whole milk from teat buckets until they reach the age of three months.
During the summer months all animal groups go to pasture. The automatic milking group of cows have access to the pasture 24/7. The 5 ha pasture has been divided into sections, and the animals move daily to a new section in the rotation. Having new grass daily encourages them to graze more. Feed is also available indoors and the numbers of visits to the automatic milking have stayed on the normal level in summer. Heifers and dry cows stay outdoors all through the grazing season. Their pastures are in several places round the campus area. The cattle have access to forest areas as cover. The animals play an important role in taking care of traditional biotopes and advancing biodiversity