Rallying dairy innovators who are farming healthier, happier cows
The HealthyLife Grant initiative is seeking innovative dairy farmers that are serious about improving the sustainable lifetime performance of the herd.
Dairy farming is experiencing a wave of innovation . Sustainable farming drives, consumer expectations, and demand for protein-rich foods are urging farmers to rethink years of well-established strategies.
At Trouw Nutrition, we want to celebrate the innovative work dairy farmers are doing with the launch of our Europe-wide HealthyLife Grant.
“Our mission at Trouw Nutrition is feeding the future,” says Trouw Nutrition’s Global Dairy Manager, Alfredo Sanz Moreno.
“We're constantly seeking new ideas, technologies, or solutions to help the industry fulfil this mission.”
In a new approach for Trouw Nutrition, it is launching the HealthyLife Grant, which will offer up to €10,000 to dairy farmers, and their veterinarians or nutritionists who have been working alongside them, along with a support package from the research and development team. Its aim is to discover those practical on-farm initiatives that deliver greater herd performance sustainably, and share them across the industry so other farmers can implement them confidently.
A focus on well-being and resilience
Optimising herd health , particularly through well-being and resilience [3,4], is a critical factor. Studies show there are three stages in the life-cycle of a dairy cow where farmers can improve production, while reducing their carbon footprint; first is by reducing the age of first calving; second by increasing the number of lactations ; and third, by increasing the milk yield. 
“We’re looking for innovations that are focused on the cow during the transition period between lactations,” explains Mr Sanz Moreno, who will be one of the three judges choosing the winner of the grant.
“We’d like to hear about the great ideas that are taking place in Europe that are making those cows more resilient to the stress period that is ahead of them – giving birth and undergoing very high milk production.”
Entries are expected across three categories: animal husbandry and management, nutrition, and health and well-being. For example, farmers may have invested in more comfortable pens for cows pre- and post-calving, enhanced health strategies to optimise cow resilience, or adjusted the diet of the cow in preparation for calving.
Knowledge-sharing to accelerate change
The introduction of new technologies means more farmers are testing out new strategies, performing trials or using prototypes in their facilities as they strive to push advancements in dairy farming.
Mr Sanz Moreno says: “Our purpose with this Grant is to inspire dairy farmers and farm advisors to succeed in a rapidly changing world. By attracting these progressive farmers and uncovering proven on-farm inventions and processes, the Healthy Life Grant aims to help enhance industry-wide innovation. Through sharing knowledge, it can help other dairy farmers get to the top of their game too.
 Rajala-Schultz, P.J., Grohn, Y.T., and McCulloch, C.E. (1999). Effects of milk fever, ketosis, and lameness on milk yield in dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 1999; 82: 288–294 https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(99)75235-5
 I. D. E. van Dixhoorn et al. (2018). Indicators of resilience during the transition period in dairy cows: A case study. J. Dairy Sci. 2018; 101:10271–10282. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2018-14779
 Colditz, I.G. and Hine, B.C. (2016). Resilience in farm animals: biology, management, breeding and implications for animal welfare. Anim. Prod. Sci. 2016; 56: 1961–1983 https://doi.org/10.1071/an15297
 Grandl, F., Furger, M., Kreuzer, M., & Zehetmeier, M. (2019). Impact of longevity on greenhouse gas emissions and profitability of individual dairy cows analysed with different system boundaries. Animal, 13(1), 198-208. https://doi.org/10.1017/S175173111800112X