Four on Farm Areas That Can Help Reduce Lameness

1. Farm Hygiene
The environment is very important, especially when it comes to lameness. Keeping the cow housing cleaned in between milking helps keep the cows’ environment cleaner to help reduce the spread of lameness.

Cleaning cubicles and scraping alleyways every time the cows leave their area, providing ample bedding in the stalls helps cows remain healthy and reduces stress on their hooves, resulting in healthier cows, increased milk production and lower vet bills. Continued research by Liverpool University demonstrates that digital dermatitis (DD) DNA on hoof knives after trimming infected hooves increases the risk of spreading the disease from cow to cow. Disinfection of hoof knives is advocated following trimming to eliminate or at least largely reduce the spread of DD from shared knives.

2. Footbath
One relatively easy and inexpensive way to offset the threat of lameness due to hoof problems is the consistent use of a footbath. Various studies have clearly demonstrated that when processed through a properly prepared footbath once a day for just three months, disease and lameness can be reduced by as much as 20%. Footbaths are preventative tools, once the infection has set in, the herd is already behind in the care process. While the footbath is not going to cure what ails them, it does play a vital role in preventing the spread of infectious conditions.

3. Maintenance Trimming
Maintenance trimming should be conducted every five to six months, cows with chronic lameness – trimming every three to four months, as determined by a quality, trained foot trimmer based on collected herd data.

Typically, this includes a weekly visit to the herd to trim maintenance cows and address any new issues. Follow-up with cows previously treated is possible with this weekly schedule as well. Additionally, that weekly visit allows for early intervention with cows who are developing concerns. Regular mobility scoring of the herd is a necessity to monitor lameness and is also a requirement for farm assurance.

4. Cow Comfort
Cow comfort impacts quality of life and, by extension, the quality and production of milk. There are multiple areas of consideration when discussing comfort with respect to hoof health: walking/standing, exercise and lying.

Proper floor surface and maintenance should be a first thought in developing or modernising any dairy cow facility. The surface should be sloped to allow for proper drainage. Where the grooves are not sufficiently close together to stop slipping, the risk will lead to damaged hooves and contribute to lameness rather than aid in prevention. A rubberised floor surface should also be considered, specifically in transfer lanes, holding areas, parlour returns and exits. Rubberised flooring has been shown to help improve mobility in cows and reduces the occurrence of lameness related to slipping.

For further help and advice, please contact Mark at markyearsley@fcgagric.com or your local FCG office.

Posted in Business Management, Dairy & Forage, Sherborne.