Than and now

14 December 2022
5 minutes

Cattle farming is hard work. It is not only physically demanding for farmers, but it also takes a lot of time every day. Farm animals never get a holiday, and they don’t know about weekends. This basically means that in the past, farmers couldn't take any time off either. Nowadays, farmers can actually go on holiday now and again. This is thanks to technological developments in cattle farming. On this page, you can read all about how the latest technology lends farmers a helping hand.

Then: all work and no play

When we say that the farmers could never go on holiday, we’re not exaggerating. Just imagine: cows were milked by hand, food stock was topped up manually. When making fodder in the spring and harvesting corn in the autumn, 80 to 100-hour working weeks were a common occurrence for farmers.

Now: the modern automated farmer

Even today, running a farm takes up a lot of a farmer’s time and attention in any season. Silos have to be stocked, animals want to be fed, and there are various other jobs to do around the farm. Farm work itself has not changed, but the way farm work is done has. There are many modern, large-scale, and automated farms in the Netherlands these days. With a lot of the work made easier by robots for example, farmers now have more time for other things.

More time: more holiday and better business practices

What do farmers do with all that spare time? They can go on holiday once a year, for example. Farmers can also use that spare time to focus on the business side of their farm. This means that they take time to think about how to run the farm as a business and how to use the latest technology. More time does not necessarily mean less work, but it does mean different work. You could say that farmers spend time brainstorming for their business. They think about what would be the best way to use technology on the farm. About how that would benefit the farmer, the animals, and society. About how to make sure the animals are happy. But they can also think about how to produce the best possible product. And about what to do when something breaks down or - better yet - how to prevent things from breaking down at all. As you can see, each system needs to be thought of individually. Here are a few of them.


You probably know that cows used to be milked by hand. Modern farms use milking robots for that. These robots are very animal-friendly. When cows want to be milked, they go to the robot themselves. Farmers no longer have to milk cows at fixed times, which gives them greater freedom.


Many modern farmers also use a manure robot. This kind of robot moves around the stables all day to keep the grids clean. And that means a lot less manual scrubbing.


Feeding systems are also fully automated now. These systems ensure that the animals in each stable get exactly the right amount of feed. This way, the animals get the quantity they need to grow.

Ideal climate

Farmers want their animals to be comfortable. This is what we call ‘animal welfare’. For that, animals need not only the right feed, but also an ideal climate. Sensors in modern stables ensure the right amount of light and airflow for the animals. This is how farmers make sure that animals have clean stables to live in.

Animal welfare

When we talk about automation, this is not just about using sensors to regulate the climate to improve animal welfare. Automation also benefits animal welfare because it frees up farmers’ time. With farmers no longer having to do so much physical work, there is more time to give the animals the specific attention they need, such as when an animal is sick.

Everything taken care of

As you will discover, new technology not only means that a farmer can go on holiday now and again. There's more! Farmers use automation and digitalisation to make more products and better products, and to make sure the animals are comfortable. Farmers supply data to De Heus, which is then used to help make animal feed production sustainable. And there you have it: the way farmers use technology results in a win-win situation for both animals and humans. That is how farmers make sure everything is taken care of and, with a little luck, have some time left over to go on holiday!