Reducing food waste on farms

When food is lost or wasted, all the resources that were used to produce this food go to waste. 29 September is International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste initiated by the United Nations. Reducing food loss and waste contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as pressure on land and water resources.

On dairy farms, antibiotic treatments are a big part of food waste, as milk from treated cows is discarded from the food chain. Most antibiotics in dairy herds are used to treat cows with mastitis and diseases in calves.

Ilka Klaas, Dairy Development Director at DeLaval shares some insights how DeLaval can help reduce food waste on farms.

What can DeLaval do to reduce food loss and food waste on farm level?

“Healthy cows and their calves are key to reduce food waste related to disease treatments and antibiotics. Healthy cows produce more milk of better quality than cows who are sick. Of course, the sick cow should be treated, but the use of antibiotics affects the milk and it can no longer be used. Typically, this milk is discarded and thus increases the food waste. We at DeLaval support farmers to improve both cow health and milk production with our herd management tools.  Our milking systems milk in a very gentle and efficient way which is important to keep the teats healthy. We have efficient tools and technologies, including cleaning and disinfectant solutions to clean the teats before and disinfect the teats after milking to reduce the risk of mastitis and achieve a high milk quality. Our advanced sensor technology can detect early signs of diseases and alert the farmer. This means that the farmer can tend to the cow before any major medical interventions are needed, thus reducing the use of treatments with antibiotics and ensuring the quality of the milk.”

What else can be done to reduce food loss and waste on farm?

“A crucial thing to strive towards to reduce waste and the overall environmental impact on farms is cow longevity. Keeping cows productive and healthy longer not only reduces food waste in the long-term perspective, but also the climate footprint. In order to improve cow longevity, farmers need to have a good overview of their herd to make the best decisions. Our farm management platform DeLaval DelPro™ keeps track of the health and performance of the herd. In the tool you get a view of every individual cow, which makes it easier to act if symptoms of diseases are starting to show. Our advisory services help farmers to optimize their management for healthier cows and better milk quality.”

How to measure food loss and waste on farm?

“The farmers know what amount of milk they extract during milking versus the amount of milk that is being transported to food processors. The difference of those numbers indicates how much milk is wasted or discarded. Another aspect worth mentioning is that if the milk is not of high quality, the farmers will not get premium payments by their dairy processor. Therefore, increasing the animal health and milk quality is a high priority for farmers, both from an animal welfare and economic perspective. This is where our research and innovation at DeLaval can make the biggest difference: to develop and provide the right tools and advisory services to increase both the animals’ health and the profitability on farms. This in turn help reduce the food waste, which is a great achievement.”