News & Advice

Hoof Trimming Benefits

May 8, 2017 | Dairy, Lameness

What happens on a day-to-day basis with regards to cow claws? Frequent walking (twice a day covering on average 3-4 km) impacts on the hoof simply because of the weight the claws have to carry. This will cause natural wear and tear on the sole. Add to this uneven walking surfaces with the odd stone, pressure from herd mates, hard standing surfaces and sharp turning corners and the chance of injury grows significantly.

Rain will soften the tracks which in turn will cause softening on the sole, which leaves it even more vulnerable to injury; this then tips the scale towards lameness. So rain, often blamed for a spike in lame cows, merely exacerbates underlying issues.

Most often, lameness is a result from altered weight distribution caused by aforementioned risk factors. Soles will thicken unevenly, some parts will get excessively worn and the whole claw structure will be compromised; high risk of lameness.

How do you know this happens on your dairy farm? It does. 
Even on farms with perfect tracks, no pressure and all the time in the world to walk to and from milking, gravity still wins. Cows carry a lot of weight, even more so in the later stages of gestation, and will therefore pressure their claws continuously.

Ask any Vet; whenever we treat lame cows, there are always some ‘tidying up’ trims to do on the patient’s foot. Whether it is dusting off the white line or lowering the sole it is part of the process to full recovery to restore a proper weight bearing platform.

In many countries, hoof trimming is scheduled once or twice a year with the aim to maintain claw health, reduce the incidence of infectious claw diseases and lower lameness prevalence.
In New Zealand, awareness is growing that hoof trimming should be integrated into dairy farming for several reasons: 

  • Though our cows lead a predominantly outdoors existence, this brings with it a whole different range of claw challenges (as mentioned) 
  • Annual or biannual trimming maintains claw health and increases resilience resulting in reduced lameness prevalence 
  • Hoof trimming records help identify farm-specific risk factors by highlighting predominant lesions 
  • With proper equipment, sharp knives and the experience to deal with cow claws, a hoof trimmer can save time and money while doing a better job than most as he’s dealt with a lot more feet 

Prevention is better than cure. Anexa FVC recognises the effect lameness can have on your herd’s production and reproduction. As part of a prevention strategy we have entered into a partnership with Hoof-it, to give our members a cost effective hoof management option. Hoof-it is owned and operated by Waikato based Stuart Rogers. Stuart is experienced, efficient and dedicated to providing a quality trim and good service while entertaining you with his Irish accent. If you would like to find out more, or book your herd in for a trim in preparation for the next season, please ring your nearest Anexa FVC clinic.

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