CowSignals to double productive lifetime of dairy cows world wide

Training on dairy management to prevent disease and double the cows' productive lifetime. Give farmers more income.

Photo of Anouk
2 3

Written by

I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

CowSignals Training Company

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Established (the solution has passed the previous stages and demonstrated success)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $250k - $500k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 5,000 - 10,000

Organization type

  • For-profit

Headquarters location: Country

  • Netherlands

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

We have trainers active in 47 countries ( as we speak and reached 66 countries total now. The trainer are active in several cities.


Facebook URL

Twitter URL

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

- Dairy cows only have an average lifetime of 2,5 lactations world wide in stead of 5 - Lameness and disease numbers among cows are extremely high - Farmers are struggling to earn enough - There is a lack of knowledge among dairy farmers, especially in development countries - Overusage of antibiotics on dairy farms has a negative impact on public health and the environment - The dairy industry is a main contributor to methane exhaust

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

We have combined scientific knowledge on dairy management and practical knowledge from the best farmers into the 'CowSignals concept'. Our goal is to help farmers prevent disease among their cows. This gives cows a longer life and increases milk production, so that give more income and working pleasure to farmers. CowSignals is available as book, live training and video learning. We reach farmers directly, but also work a lot with companies in the dairy industry. We educate their farm advisors/sales people as CowSignals Trainers. They train the farmers for us, giving us a much broader reach. The companies can increase the quality of their advisors/sales people and have something unique to offer their clients that the competition doesn't have. Going from 2, 5 to 5 lactations has a huge impact on the environment: we can reduce methane exhaust by the dairy industry with 30%. Preventing disease by simple providing the cow with what she needs, diminishes the need for antibiotic

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

We benefit companies that work with us: it shows that they really care for cows and it makes their advisors better than the competition (besides CowSignals we also specialized in PeopleSignals: teaching advisor and trainer skills). Doing a workshop also gives them a fun tool to attract new clients and help existing clients. One of our companies told us that we helped them grow financially for 6 consecutive years. Farmers that we reach directly, or that we reach through our local trainers and advisors, earn more income because their cows live longer (going from 2,5 to 5 lactations), have less disease and give more milk (1 or more liters per day per cow more). This also gives farmers more working pleasure. We can impact the environment positively by reducing methane exhaust by the dairy industry with 30% (see attachment) and reduce the use of antibiotics (in the Netherlands antibiotic use in dairy sector was reduced by 50% in 2014). We also clearly improve animal welfare a lot.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Our budget exist of earned income. Companies, individual advisors or vets and farmers pay us for trainings and lectures. This has proved to be a very sustainable financial model for the past years. For organizing trainings in development countries we always work with partners to get local people trained as CowSignals Trainers (SNV, SendaCow, FrieslandCampina Dairy Development Program, Rabobank Foundation). The companies hire us to train the trainers.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

We've made scientific advice very simple and practical. Not only do we want farmers to understand what they need to change and why, we also make sure that they can do it. We've learned from the best farmers. All our solutions have already proven itself in the field. Besides being great at CowSignals, we've also specialised in PeopleSignals. We can teach people how to become an excellent advisor and/or trainer.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

When I was 10, my father asked me to help do a delivery on his sheep farm. 10 years old, with my knees in the straw, I helped deliver two babies. It was incredible! Mom was proud, dad was proud, everybody happy. I was standing up and I looked at my knees: two wet knees. The straw was wet. So my mom said: "You have to put more straw in there!" She wanted to take care of the baby lambs. But my dad said: "No, this is just enough, we still have to make money". He wanted to make sure the business could survive. That dilemma between my mom and my dad, is probably the biggest dilemma in the whole dairy industry, still today. I want to help farmers solve that: show them how to give the best care to their cows, while also making an income.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Social media


Join the conversation:


Idea is really good for those developing countries where a good number of people earn their breads by selling cow milk. However, I am not sure about its scalability and to make it sustainable as good number of trainers and scientist have to be involved. If we can motivate the scientist to help and support it as part time with proper motivation, it should be quite successful.

View all comments