After more than 28 years working as a hoof trimmer in the dairy industry and, like many others, seeing the many changes within the dairy industry, I think a simple question has to be asked: “Why is lameness increasing as an issue?”
Most of my larger herds prefer to have a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly appointment. That is why I decided, as a hoof trimmer, I needed to help in the record-keeping department and decided to invest in a “chute-side” computer system to record the cows trimmed and the lesions observed on the hooves. Now, at the end of the trim session, there are detailed individual cow reports and easy-to-read herd summaries.
‘Hoof Signals’ provides all the practical knowledge a farmer needs to get hoof health on his dairy farm under control with easily understandable descriptions, clear drawings and lots of photographs.
The dairy cattle locomotion scoring system developed at Michigan State University and recommended by Zinpro is based on the observation of cows standing and walking (gait), with special emphasis on their back posture.
Sole ulcers are among the most common causes of lameness in dairy cattle. Why are they so common?
Accurately identifying specific lesions is critical for treatment and prevention plans. This article provides standardized names, abbreviations, descriptions and photos of the 14 claw lesions agreed upon by the International Bovine Lameness Committee.
A study at the University of BC showed how neck rail placement affects cows’ ability to stand in their stalls. The closer the neck rail was to the rear curb, the more time cows spent standing with only the front hooves in the stall and the less time they were able to stand with all 4 hooves in the stall. When cows were housed with the neck rails at 190 cm, gait score improved; at 130 cm, gait score worsened.
Although feeding and management have the most important short-term impact on hoof health, the role of genetics, although a longer-term influence, cannot be overlooked. Sweden has promoted breeding for healthy cows, maintaining high production for several decades. In 2006, a breeding value for claw health based on data recorded by hoof trimmers started to be included in the health profile.
Over the last few years, veterinarians at the University of Wisconsin have developed a plan to organize lameness recording and the recruitment of lame cows on small and large dairy herds. The basis for the plan is to clearly define and separate routine TRIM events from clinically LAME events.
Pasture rearing can improve hoof health, perhaps due to the change in the physical environment or to associated factors such as change in diet. Fewer cows become lame during the grazing season and cows kept outdoors are less prone to claw disorders than those that are housed indoors. Despite these advantages in hoof health, switching from indoor housing to pasture is not a practical option for many producers. But providing a rest period on pasture for lame cows may be a more practical option.