How Dairy Barn Design Affects Hoof Health

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

dairy cow hoof health barn designBuilding a new barn can be an exciting experience. However, don’t overlook the importance of hoof health in design and materials.

Poor stall design can increase the amount of standing time for the cow, leading to an increase in the risk of lameness or hoof problems. Stall surface options, such as sand or mattress beds, are another design choice that impact hoof health. Studies have found a lower incidence of lameness in barns that use deep sand bedding. For barns using mattress beds, lameness can be reduced when following the following practices: observing cows to measure locomotion, moving lame cows to a dedicated area near the milking parlor, timely hoof trimming, avoiding overstocking, reducing lock-up time and allowing lame cows to spend less time on their feet.

Footbath placement is an additional consideration when designing a barn. One way to ensure that all cows visit a footbath once a day is by placing it in the milking parlor exit lanes. Footbath frequency and size vary for each farm, but the recommended size for a footbath is at least 10 feet long, and usually cows go through it at least once a week.

Daily barn maintenance is a practice that continues long after a new barn is completed, but if it falls to the wayside, hooves can be affected. Wet, slippery, over-crowded alleys and pens increase the potential for physical injury, and expose hooves to bacteria-laden waste and water. Ensure that alley scrapers are running on a normal schedule and that cows have a chance to spread out in the barn to reduce over-crowding.

Regardless of barn design, quality hoof care products are essential for keeping cows healthy and mobile. Additives such as HealMax and HoofMax by AgroChem can reduce footbath costs and help manage hoof diseases such as hairy heel warts. HealMax is available in a foam, spray and footbath concentrate formulation; a new formulation is now available with a small, effective amount of copper. HoofMax is a footbath additive that can increase the potency of copper or zinc sulfate for healthier hooves with more cow passes per footbath, less labor and waste, and reduced copper loading on land. DuraHoof is an all-in-one pre-mixed additive that contains just the right amount of HoofMax, and copper and cleaning agents for economical hoof care.

For more information about barn design and its effect on hoof health, talk to your veterinarian or hoof trimmer.

Much of this information was sourced from Greg Blonde, University of Wisconsin-Extension http://fyi.uwex.edu/dairy/files/2016/11/Hoof-Health-Housing-Factsheet-Blonde-2.pdf

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