Hoof care and treatment of cattle lameness continues to be a major priority for farmers worldwide. Both issues are particularly significant and challenging as cattle lameness leads to decreased feed intake, lower milk production, reduced bulling activity, weight loss and ultimately culling if left untreated.
In New Zealand, an estimated 6% of dairy cows suffer from lameness each year. This results in an eye-watering US$50 million+ cost to the industry.
Farmers now have access to some great products allowing them to quickly and easily tend to a sore hoof before it becomes a full-blown infection (pre-lameness). Simple techniques such as cleaning off and flattening a sore hoof will help the animal’s hoof to heal without the need for more invasive procedures. The application of a block at this stage will also accelerate the healing process.
Some lameness prevention tips:
- Keep all walking tracks well maintained with a good solid based and good drainage.
- Ensure proper use of the backing gate in the yard – cows need to have good head room to see where they are walking.
- Include fibre (such as hay or straw) in the cows’ diet – helps to reduce acidosis and makes the cow feel full.
- Ask your vet about options for zinc supplementation.
- Clean and flatten the hoof as soon as a suspected sore hoof is noted.
- Keep a well-stocked, hoof care treatment kit in the shed for use as needed – early treatment saves time and money!