If we have to walk a fair distance, the first thing we do is to ensure we are comfortable. Good shoes and healthy feet can go a long way towards an enjoyable journey. Whereas walking with a stone in our shoe or with a shoe that doesn’t fit properly can make it a miserable journey.
It’s the same for your cows – walking the race every day, twice a day covering anywhere between 1 and 10 kms per day, negotiating hard surfaces when hooves are built for soft surfaces; stones or other debris getting stuck may result in overgrown hooves (claws) predisposed to lameness. A small problem can quickly become a larger issue with repercussions that can affect overall production and reproductive performance.
Did you know it takes a moderately lame cow at least 28 days to fully recover? It’s common sense that a healthy cow is going to produce more and get in-calf easier. The early bird catches the worm: Ensure that your cows’ hooves are in good condition for calving now with our 3 step checklist:
1. Hoof care:
- Identify locomotion issues and attend to overgrown hooves
- Record locomotion issues, check feet and treat problems early. Ask yourself: How well do you know what you’re looking for? Revisit DairyNZ’s locomotion scoring videos here: https://bit.ly/2MDYnpG
- Early intervention can help – Look for overgrown claws at milking and organize for them to be trimmed. Hoof trimming restores the weight bearing surface and existing lesions are removed, so the feet can handle increasing weight from a growing calf. It’s like changing out of heels into sneakers.
2. Farm maintenance
- Assess and maintain tracks. Ask yourself:
- Do your tracks have good drainage? Does water run to the side? What did they look like in the spring? Any ‘traffic jam’ areas?
- How deep is the mud? Are there rocks under there that could injure soft hooves?
- When was the last time we resurfaced the track? Would this help? Is it in the budget? Are there alternative solutions?
- Stockmanship on point? Training for staff required? Is everyone aware of track problem spots and do they allow for them when walking stock to shed.
3. Know the lameness impact on your farm
- Reflect on your records
- Do you have enough information to be helpful? Do you and your staff record incidents of lameness when a hoof is treated, or do you record locomotion issues too?
- Does everyone record lameness incidents in the same way?Does your farm have a process? Is everyone aware of the recording system? Is the process working?
- What do the records show?
- Are you comfortable with the results?
- Discuss the results with your Anexa Vet, healthy hooves contribute to your cows overall animal health, which in turn contributes to their overall production potential, and worth a conversation.
For answers and or help with these questions contact Hanneke for a free intro session, phone 07 853 0027 or email [email protected]