New article: Legislation on the keeping of cattle boosted the development of cow brushes
What do truck and bus washing centres have in common with agricultural cow brushes?
Actually, more than you might expect! With his sights set on the new " Regulation on minimum animal welfare requirements for the keeping of cattle", Carsten Papuga, with a little help from a clever hoof trimmer, among others, realised the need to rethink the common cow brushes. According to the forthcoming regulation, from 1 July 2022, all herds had to have at least one rotating cow brush per 50 cows (Denmark). This meant that some farmers had to invest in new, and more, brushes. There was therefore a gap in the market.
But what do you do when you've never been involved in farming and you want to start producing cow brushes? You get in touch with a skilled farmer who wants to be involved in the development of what would eventually become some of the best cow brushes on the market.
On Funen at Fjelsted, not far from the highway, lies 'Lykkesholm'. Despite the short distance to the highway, the farm is scenic and surrounded by forest and fields. 'Lykkesholm' is run by farmer Torben Hansen and his wife, Pia, as a conventional farm with 200 jersey cows plus associated breeding. Apart from the couple themselves, four people work on the property. The team consists of the couple's son, Rasmus, two flex-job employees who have been on the property for 15 and 16 years respectively, and a part-time calf carer. Robotic milking is used on the property, and 248 hectares are being farmed this year.
Washing halls, hoof trimmers and conscience
Kvia, as the company is now called, has not always produced cow brushes. It all started in 1981, when the focus was on lorry and bus washing systems. So there was talk of brushes, they just weren't for cows. When several companies associated with agriculture began to focus on the new " Regulation on minimum animal welfare requirements for the keeping of cattle", in which skin care of dairy cattle plays a significant role, Carsten Papuga began in 2014, at the request of several people in agriculture, the development of a new type of cow brush.
One hoof trimmer in particular was instrumental in kick-starting the development of the cow brush, and it was through him that Carsten Papuga made contact with Torben Hansen on Funen. After a visit to the farm, where he was able to ask what a cow brush should be able to do and how it would be most optimal, Carsten Papuga went home and drew up the plans. Torben Hansen had just one condition for the development of the new type of cow brush: it had to be able to turn in the opposite direction. On several occasions, when visiting other farms, he had realised that a cow brush could take off a tail if it was long: "And I couldn't quite live with that!".
After a while, Torben Hansen and his wife were invited to the workshop where the prototype of the first cow brush had been made: "It looked marvellous, but we were a little doubtful. Whether it would hold up, but he guaranteed that it would. And then I said: 'Well, then there's nothing else to do but hang it up in the stable'."
However, it turned out that the pipe used was not strong enough. The pipe was therefore changed to a profile pipe, which is also the one used today: "And I certainly haven't had a single cow brush that has fallen down with that pipe on it".
A really great cow brush!
The primary task of a cow brush is to perform skin care on the cows. And according to Torben Hansen, that is also the impression he gets from the Kvia cow brushes. But for a cow brush to be completely optimal, it must be a brush that can withstand anything, one that is easy to maintain and not one that the farmers have to service every month - they have plenty of other things to do!
"Well, I think that what we have today, especially the one we are standing by, is a really great cow brush. And when both the cows and I like it, the cow brush, then we have something that matches well together!".
The cow brush we are standing by is a 'Molly' brush, which is now three years old, which is not visible on it: "At least I'm thinking that it will take another three years!". And on the day the brushes need changing, the solution is also simple. Just loosen a 12 mm bolt at the bottom of the brush and the brushes, which are in two parts, drop down, then two new ones can be fitted and the bolt screwed back in place. According to Torben Hansen, this is something that can be done in half an hour: "That is, from when we start getting tools out, and then until we have rinsed it all off again. Then it's changed. But the process itself, when we are standing here, we can do in 5 minutes".