News & Advice

Track tinkering

May 8, 2018 | Dairy, Dairy Animal Health & Welfare, Lameness

Hanneke Officer, Veterinarian and Health Hoof Provider

Following the excessive amounts of rain we have experienced this season we have seen a lot of tracks that are due for maintenance. Dry-off is naturally the ideal time to scoop off the old and bring in the new.

Do you know the most important aspects of a track?

  • Surface material (clay content, particle size, compaction) 
  • Crowning 
  • Drainage 

During visits to farms assessing risk factors for lameness, it’s become increasingly evident a lot of cows walk on hard surfaces for significant distances. This slows cow flow, causing staff to put pressure on, resulting in lameness. Even without pressure, hard surfaces will cause continuous wear and tear. This then predisposes the cow to lameness in adverse events, eg calving stress, prolonged wet weather, time on concrete (standing off, feedpad).

Also, walking patterns have shown the preference of cows to walk on the outside of the track, where mud build-up provides a softer surface than the track itself. The downside of this, cows can’t see what’s hidden in or under the mud. They are more likely to injure themselves by stepping on stones or other objects. At the same time, the mud will soften the soles, increasing the chance of foot rot following injury.

Track maintenance is expensive, but necessary. Make sure you’ve got the knowledge you need to make informed decisions. We have trained staff that can perform a track check for you, both identifying risk factors and providing advice regarding track upgrades. This can be a significant step in lameness prevention.

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