News & Advice

Are your cows trying to tell you something? Lameness can be more than just sore feet

Jul 27, 2023 | Dairy, Lameness

You don’t need us to remind you about the damage the rain has done to farm tracks and races. It is certainly difficult to do all the maintenance needed, but that doesn’t mean doing nothing. Sometimes focusing on the biggest problem areas will make a huge difference. 

Case Study:
One of our farmers’ early lactation cows normally get to the feed pad at 4:30am (by batt-latch). When staff arrive at the shed to let them onto the yard, the feed on the pad is usually finished, but one day there was still plenty of feed left. When the cows were let onto the milking yard that afternoon, the owner noticed that the cows were a bit foot sore. Nothing had changed on farm including feed levels, grass or people; the only thing was it had rained a lot recently. The owner inspected the races and couldn’t see too much to worry about. They watched the cows leaving the shed and saw the cows were stopping at a point a few metres down the race. When they eventually moved on, they were very cautious walking over that section of race. The owner went and inspected that section of race again and realised that for cows with soft feet from the recent wet weather, this section of race was too uneven. It was due to be fixed anyway but the weather hadn’t allowed it. Sure enough, once that section of race was resurfaced, despite the cows still having soft feet, the cow flow from the shed improved 100% and of course the next morning at 4:55am the pad was licked clean again – the cows had got to the pad in time to eat, instead of stopping at the rough spot and not wanting to move on! 

This example is a good reminder of the importance of observation – not only of the races but of cow behaviour. If you need any help identifying which areas will benefit most from attention on your farm, or perhaps you’d like your staff to have some training in lameness scoring and early identification of lame cows, get in touch with us. Our Healthy Hoof Advisers can work with you to minimise the impact of lameness on the production and reproduction in your herd, while maximising the wellbeing of your cows and farm staff!

Other resources you might find helpful:

Improving production from the ground up

Lameness care and prevention


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