When cows are healthy and well-cared for, they naturally produce more milk. That’s the philosophy of Leonardo Pereira and all at Fazenda Reunidas farm in Brazil.
The first rays of sun bathe the countryside in golden light. The grass still glistens with dew. When the sun climbs into the sky, it will be another hot day on the Fazenda Reunidas dairy farm in the southern part of Minas Gerais state in Brazil. Leonardo Pereira, whose grandfather, Antonio Pereira, founded the farm, starts out on foot into the cool morning air on his daily tour of the farm. He’s already been up for hours because one of his cows will soon be calving.
The 2,500-hectare farm is home to more than 1,500 dairy cows. Every birth is special for Leonardo Pereira and he checks in on his cow regularly to ensure that she is fine as her time draws near. She snorts and periodically makes noises. Mostly likely she is managing her labor perfectly well, but there is always the threat that she has milk fever – which is known to affect six to ten percent of all dairy cows, particularly close to calving time.
Milk fever is a metabolic disorder that occurs around the time of birth if a cow’s body is unable to mobilize calcium needed for milk and colostrum production quickly enough. This is why Pereira and his team have been closely monitoring the pregnant cow’s health and carefully managed her nutrition, particularly over the last two weeks to ensure that her diet is well balanced.
Leonardo Pereira strokes the pregnant cow’s fluffy brown coat. “She’s doing well,” he says, satisfied. Later he will return to monitor her progress. Bayer veterinary services advisor, Dr. Tales Cesar, drops by for one of his regular visits. The farmer is glad for the support of Cesar, who continues to work closely with him and the team to further enhance herd and calf health and well-being on the farm through practical solutions. It was Cesar who identified that the cows were affected by subclinical hypocalcaemia, a disease without readily observable symptoms, which impacted their well-being and health, and caused economic losses for the farm. He shared his expertise, conducted laboratory examinations, and provided technical training for the farm employees, and has since clearly demonstrated that focusing on animal well-being and health also increases farm profitability.
Cesar is part of a 30-member veterinary services team at Bayer that is dedicated to supporting farmers throughout Brazil with their scientific expertise. They are in regular contact with the dairy farmers and work alongside the veterinarians responsible for each farm. “We take stock of the protocols and how they are carried out on farms, and we interact with the veterinarians responsible for the respective farms to find out how things are and how they can be further enhanced. We share a common goal – to help farmers advance the well-being and health of their herds. This is the basis for farm productivity and profitability,” says the Bayer veterinarian.
It is this dedication and close collaboration with Brazil’s dairy farmers that has earned Bayer recognition as a valued partner for solutions that benefit both animals and farmers. “We understand the challenges dairy farmers face, their expectations, and the whole dairy system. We are committed to enhance the health and well-being of animals and work closely with farmers to further develop the dairy industry in Brazil,” says Sergio Schuler, Head of Commercial Operations Latin America South for Animal Health.
Our cows are very important to us. This is why we do everything we can to ensure their well-being and give them every opportunity to thrive.
Economically sustainable production has the animals’ well-being at its core – that’s what farmer Leonardo Pereira is all about. The farm grows its own grain and feed for the cows because good nutrition is crucial to their health. “Our cows are very important to us. This is why we do everything we can to ensure their well-being and give them every opportunity to thrive. Ultimately, this benefits our farm economically.”
Leonardo Pereira’s young son is already learning these lessons. He often accompanies his father. Maybe someday he’ll take over the farm that was founded by his great-grandfather in 1960. “We’ve been producing milk here for three generations,” says Leonardo Pereira.
And the new calf? It was born before sunset. The calf and her mother are healthy and are doing well. Leonardo Pereira will do everything possible to make sure the little one has a good start in life.