Category Hooves

Chip Hendrickson featured in Progressive Dairyman

digital dermatitis in dairy cattleOur Hoof Care Technical Expert, Chip Hendrickson wrote a recent article that appeared in Progressive Dairyman. The article focused on reducing copper usage in footbath programs, along with solutions to use instead of copper. Read the full article here!

Hoof Trimming & Timing

Dairy cow footbathWe all know that routine checks and hoof trimming can help to prevent lameness on your dairy. We recently sat down with Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson, our hoof care experts with a combined total of 65+ years of hoof trimming experience, to ask them some important questions on hoof trimming and timing.

 How often should I be trimming my herd?

There is a significant difference between hoof-checking your herd and hoof-trimming your herd. We recommend checking every cow in your herd twice a year. If Digital Dermatitis, foot rot or heel erosion are ongoing issues, you will need to increase the frequency your hoof care routine. Trimming is only needed if there is overgrowth and should be done as needed.

Is hoof trimming necessary?

The simple answer is YES! The whole idea behind consistent hoof trimming is to keep your cows balanced as much as possible. Trimming keeps your cows balanced to bear weight on all claws evenly. When the weight is evenly distributed, your cows will be more comfortable, and comfortable cows produce more milk.

Do I need a hoof inspection or hoof trimming?

There is a difference between hoof inspections and hoof trimming. You should have your herd inspected at least 2 times each year. Trimmings are only necessary when there is overgrowth.

Does every claw need to be trimmed?

No, not necessarily. Every cow will be different. You may not trim something off every claw; only those claws that need trimming should be trimmed.

How could I find a good hoof trimmer?

You will want to find a quality hoof trimmer to ensure the hoof health on your dairy. Talk to other dairymen, area veterinarians and nutritionists and see who they recommend. Once you have some recommendations, do your research. Check their background and coursework and see if they are still currently in continuing education courses.

Footbath concentrates like HealMax and HoofMax from AgroChem are designed to obtain results and promote hoof health for reduced risk of disease and lameness. HealMax remains effective in higher temperatures and won’t flash-off like formaldehydeHoofMax optimizes footbaths based on copper or zinc sulfate to achieve good control with less heavy metals and expense.

3 Things That Can Jeopardize Any Footbath Routine

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

Footbaths are an essential part of your hoof care routine to prevent lameness and disease.  It is important to use footbaths for the prevention AND treatment of hoof problems. Far too often, we see dairymen initiate a footbath routine only after an outbreak has occurred.

If implemented properly, a consistent footbath routine will be one of the best things you can do for your herd’s hoof health and your milk production. Here are the top 3 mistakes to avoid on your dairy.

1. Human Error

We all make mistakes, after all, we are only human. Often, we see different people running footbaths using inconsistent approaches. When different people are giving footbaths on different days, mistakes can be made. Even if the same person does the footbath routine, human error can and often does occur.

It’s important to mix the accurate amount of water to the proper concentrate to provide an effective and safe footbath for your herd. Always be consistent and carefully follow the label instructions. If too much footbath solution is used, it could be dangerous for your herd. If too much water is used, your footbath will not be strong enough to kill the bacteria.

If you’re looking for a better way to run a consistent footbath routine, consider a footbath dosing system. It automates your footbath program and provides the accurate amount of water and concentrate every single time.

If a footbath dosing system isn’t for you, please don’t allow an inexperienced employee run your footbaths! There is too much at stake. Always try to have an experienced staff member draw your footbaths. And while it isn’t ideal to have multiple people running your footbaths, you should train more than just one person; this way you’re always covered if someone’s sick or out of work.

     2. Improper Footbath Size

It’s imperative to have the proper sized footbath for number of cows passing through. This will depend on the number of cows you have on your dairy and whether you are looking for a replenishing system or a conventional system. We have outlined the guidelines for both methods below:

Replenishing System:
Ideal for dairies over 1000+ cows
Size: Up to 8’ footbath works best
Sides should be 6-8” high

Benefits:
Replenishing systems reduce overall costs and use less product resulting in huge reductions in cost per cow pass and they are typically less expensive to run than using formaldehyde alone.  In addition, manual labor demand is reduced it can be set up to turn on automatically.

Conventional System:
Good for approximately 200 cow passes before changing
Size: There is no one size solution for a conventional system.
Product/Water Level: Keep footbath depth 3 ½”-4”

3. Lack of consistency

Many times, we see dairymen only use footbaths as a treatment after the herd has been struck with digital dermatitis. Really, a footbath should be used as a preventative method to avoid any outbreaks.

On an average dairy farm, footbaths should be run a minimum of 3 days a week and more frequently if there are existing hygiene issues. If you use manure solids or reused solid beds; footbaths will be needed more frequently. The hot summer months will also require more footbaths as sprinklers (if used) create damp conditions and could lead to potential problems.

Footbaths will always be a critical part of your hygiene routine. While there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to your footbath routine, you will need to do what is best to maintain the health of your herd. If you don’t already have one, find yourself a qualified and experienced hoof trimmer; they’ll be your best line of defense to prevent disease and keep your herd as healthy and as comfortable as possible.

Chip Hendrickson Speaks at “Don’t Be Lame” Workshop

By Dale Baker
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Expert

Country Folks magazine recently published an article on a Cornell PRO-DAIRY lameness workshop, featuring comments by our own Chip Hendrickson on subjects ranging from lameness scoring to proper footbath protocols. You can read the article here.

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

What is Dairy Cow Lameness Really Costing You?

dairy cow hoof healthBy Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

A lame cow is an economic liability on a dairy farm. On a 500-cow dairy with a lameness incidence rate of 20% and a per-cow cost of $90, lameness can cost a dairy operation $9,000 a year. A Wisconsin study estimated the total cost of a lame dairy cow to be as high as $300 per case.

Why is lameness so costly? Treatment, reduced feed intake, reduced milk yield, reduced fertility and increased labor all play a role.

Identifying lame cows can be problematic. Lameness scoring is a common tool used for managing hoof problems. Cow behavior can also be another way to sort out cows with lameness issues.

Overall, lameness can be minimized by increasing cow comfort, avoiding overcrowding, and developing and maintaining a treatment system. Most dairy producers routinely use footbaths to prevent and treat hoof problems, and minimize the incidence of lameness.

Footbath concentrates like HealMax and HoofMax can be effective tools in the fight against lameness.

HealMax is a biodegradable product which achieves results without formaldehyde or heavy metals. HoofMax optimizes copper or zinc sulfate in the footbath to remain effective even at significantly reduced metals levels.

To learn more about reducing lameness on your dairy operation, talk to your veterinarian or hoof trimmer today.

Strategies for reducing copper use in dairy footbaths

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

Strategies for reducing copper sulfate in dairy footbathsCopper sulfate is an effective treatment and preventative for digital dermatitis when used in a footbath. Unfortunately, it’s also expensive, problematic to dispose of, and potentially toxic. The Winter 2016 issue of the Country Folks Cattle Production Guide details strategies for reducing copper use in footbaths, including:

  • Good hygiene practices to keep hooves dry and reduce potential cross-contamination
  • Footbathing intervals based on current leg hygiene and production stage
  • The use of additives (such as HoofMax or DuraHoof) to increase the potency of copper sulfate and reduce the amount needed for comparable results
  • The use of biodegradable footbath solutions (such as HealMax) to achieve results without copper sulfate or formaldehyde

You can read the entire article here.