Managing sore feet

On the whole spring calving was fairly smooth for most however we have seen our fair share of lameness in the past few months.

Wet spells, coupled with delayed track maintenance, have created the conditions leading to a high incidence of injuries and lameness. On some properties the problems have been severe.

Animal effects include slowness of movement, depressed feed intake, decreased milk production, weight loss and decreased fertility.

Additionally there are farm-wide effects such as increased labour requirement, potential job dissatisfaction (dealing with lame cows is a difficult task), increased financial costs to the farm (such as for treatment), decreased income to the farm (such as losses in milk solids), increased culling and replacement costs, and increased concern in regards to animal welfare.

As part of a daily routine it is important to:

  • Perfect the identification of lame cows - the sooner they are drafted and treated the better. Early detection is the key to rapid recovery and prevention of irreversible damage. If treated early it is rare to have more than 10% of animals needing antibiotic treatment.
  • Have good treatment facilities - the ability to restrain cows safely is essential (for both animal and operator) and some protection from the weather is desirable if at all possible. The better the facilities, the better and faster the job can and will be done which is beneficial to all parties!
  • Hand tools. No short cuts here; the cheaper the meaner! Invest in top quality knives, trimmers etc and keep them sharp at all times. Additionally wrist protectors and gloves are a wise investment (use them on the hand that supports the foot) into injury prevention.
  • Monitor the condition of your races and yard entry/exit, identify any sharp turns along the raceway leading to congestion points and control herd movement (bringing cows to the shed at correct speed and pressure).

As a final note always consider cow nutrition and the impact it can have on hoof health and remember we are always here and happy to help - whether it be treating lame cows, advising on race/yard design or running on-farm training sessions - don't hesitate to talk to your vet!