The Veterinary Knowledge Cooperative VEERkracht was officially founded in 2013 but its predecessors already had joined forces in the early 90’s. The focus of this group of bovine veterinarians and zootechnic specialists was directed towards bringing science into their daily (veterinary) practice by managing a cows physiological and metabolic needs during every stage of her live. By doing so, they were, although unaware at the time, actually managing the resilience of a cow. Every animal is under continuous influence of the external environment. In the case of domesticated animals, the external environment can be controlled by humans to a large extent. The process of domestication of animals and their use for production of human food (eggs, milk, and meat) entails our responsibility to support their physiological needs. In doing so, animal production isn’t compromised, or accompanied by impaired health or wellbeing, and indirectly will improve the dairy farms agronomic and economic perspective
Vision and mission
The above mentioned approach to improve animal performance by managing the cows physiological needs is termed “the inside-outside approach” which is in contrast to the classical “outside-inside approach” (Brand and Peeters, 2008). When applied in daily practice, the inside-outside approach is a holistic approach at the dairy farm integrating all external factors that influence the internal body management of the cow. Therefore, this approach requires an in depth knowledge of anatomy, physiology and metabolism of the dairy cow. The inside-outside approach acknowledges that the internal body management of the cow comprises a multi-system network of integrated metabolic pathways at tissue, organ, cellular, and sub-cellular level. The outcome of the whole of the cows internal body management is her performance (production, reproduction, growth, health and resilience).
In the near future, veterinary work will shift more and more from the curative approach to the preventive approach; from curing cows to preventing cows from becoming diseased. Preventive veterinary work will merely be based on advisory (consultancy) work. When this advisory work is based on the inside-outside approach cows will have an optimal performance, remain healthy, and therefore will not be in need for the use of (antibiotic) treatment. Also this indirectly will improve the economic results of the dairy farmer, and it supports the high demands of the dairy industry to produce milk in such a secure and sustainable way. Moreover, most public demands on animal welfare in the dairy industry can be fulfilled easily.
It is the mission of VEERkracht to provide the inside-outside knowledge to veterinarians and other consultants in the dairy industry by bringing the newest science to practice in post doc education. Our core business is to facilitate knowledge transfer to the members of the cooperative by organising study sessions each semester. Scientist and highly specialized consultants are invited to share their knowledge with our members. Which they in turn will pass on in workshops and practical training sessions to non-member dairy vets and farmers as final users.
In addition, VEERkracht strives to be a source of knowledge and advise for other players in the field of dairy production. This has resulted in the presence of VEERkracht members in several committees and the implementation by a large number of Dutch dairy companies of the risk-assessment tool “Cow Compass” as a tool for quality control at dairy farms.
In cooperation with CONO cheesemakers VEERkracht developed risk-assessment tool for use on dairy farm. Special trained dairy vets analyse, advice and follow-up dairy farmers according to the principles of Integrated Cow Management (ICM). Knowledge of anatomy, physiology and metabolism of the cow are at the basis of ICM. Nowadays Cow-Compass is adapted by a majority of the Dutch dairy companies as a quality control tool with which also adjustments in management on dairy farms are directed towards improvements in the production process of milk. The VEERkracht cooperative is responsible for the training of ICM dairy vets as well as providing the scientific basis to ICM.
The invisible cow Brand Peeters 2008 (PDF download)
Cow Compass Hooijer 2015 (PDF download)