Category Lameness

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.

Reducing Lameness in Dairy Cows

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical  Experts

Looking for ways to reduce lameness in your herd? During a recent workshop at the 2016 London Dairy Congress, Vic Daniel, president of the Hoof Trimmers Association, hosted a seminar on how to reduce lameness in a herd. Check out the video for the 3 important things dairy producers can do now to get a handle on lameness.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UW9iwXHaJZU%5D

Is Your Veterinarian Helping Prevent Hoof Problems on Your Dairy Farm?

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

With summer just around the corner, farmers may be seeing more of their veterinarians. Freshening cows, pregnancy checks and difficult birthings may be on the top of the list for a vet’s visit. However, are cows’ hooves being looked at, too?

“An area that has not been actively pursued by veterinarians is the area of actively monitoring hoof health on a routine basis,” said Dr. Gerard Cramer in a 2015 study from the American Association of Bovine Practitioners.

“As a starting point, veterinarians can work with hoof trimmers and farm staff to establish and standardize the recording systems,” said Dr. Cramer.

Although a majority of dairy farms have a hoof trimmer, some trimmers do not keep records of hoof problems, such as digital dermatitis. Once veterinary records are established, producers can monitor which cows have hoof problems and how they are being treated. Records can also assist with crew training.

“Possibly the greatest opportunity for veterinarians to get involved in hoof health is for them to provide training and monitoring programs for on-farm staff,” says Dr. Cramer. Senior workers may not have time to review the importance of hoof care with new employees. That’s where veterinarians can step in to help teach new workers.

Once crew members can correctly monitor hoof health, they can help determine frequency of footbathing. Hoof problems like digital dermatitis can decrease in a herd with proper treatment at the right time. Early diagnosis of hoof problems can reduce production loss, emergency vet or hoof trimmer visits, and cullings.

With its multiple formulations, HealMax from AgroChem gives producers several options. “Used correctly, HealMax delivers positive results in one week. I would recommend it to anyone whether or not they have a [digital dermatitis] issue,” says Dr. Mark Whelan.

Ask your veterinarian how he or she can help with your dairy’s hoof health this summer and year ’round.

Treating Hairy Heel Wart in Heifers

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

heifer hairy heel wartHeifers shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to hoof care treatment. A recent article helps drive home the message that heifers are at as much risk as milking cows for digital dermatitis (hairy heel wart).

In a May interview, hoof health consultant Karl Burgi said that timed trimming in heifers, prior to calving, can go a long way in preventing future hoof problems. Timed trimming is functional trimming at the most advantageous times in order to optimize claw health and prevent lameness. “Springing heifers who have had timed trimming will have 2 to 4 point higher feet and leg scores throughout their productive lives, more milk in their first lactations, and less digital dermatitis,” he notes. “If a heifer’s feet are in good shape ahead of delivering that first calf, she won’t break down in the pasterns as quickly.”

Burgi recommends heifers should be trimmed between 10 and three weeks prior to calving.

On the subject of footbaths for heifers, Burgi believes they do help prevent infectious diseases like hairy heel wart, which may grab hold when dry-cow areas are neglected, or when transition-cow immunity is naturally compromised.

There are many different products are available for managing hairy heel wart and other hoof problems. HealMax by AgroChem is available in a foam, spray and footbath concentrate formulation. The spray can be directly applied to the infected area; the foam can be applied to the whole herd. When used as a footbath concentrate, it can be rotated with DuraHoof, which cuts down on copper sulfate usage. And unlike formaldehyde, HealMax remains effective in both hot and cold weather.

For more information about hairy heel warts and treatment, contact your veterinarian or hoof trimmer today.

Behavioral Indicators of Lameness

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

University of Guelph

Lameness can cost a dairy farmer up to $6,000 per 100 cows per year. For an individual cow, it may cost as much as $350 in lost milk, more days open, treatment and labor.

In order to better understand the correlation between certain behaviors and lameness, researchers at the University of Guelph examined the activity and production of lame cows versus sound cows on 26 automated milking system (AMS) dairy farms in Ontario, Canada. On each farm, 30 cows were gait-scored on a 5-point scale; those scoring less than 3 were rated as sound, while the others were classified as lame.

Researchers found that:

•Lame cows spent over half of the day lying down on average while sound cows spent one hour less lying down.
•Milk production for a lame cow was 75.8 pounds per day, compared to 76.7 pounds per day for a sound cow.
•Lame cows were only milked an average of 2.79 times per day, while sound cows were milked 3.12 times per day.

The changes documented in the cows’ behavior and productivity may be helpful in identifying and treating lame cows in both AMS and non-AMS barns.

Digital dermatitis (hairy heel wart) is a common hoof problem that can lead to lameness. Treatment options include the use of copper sulfate footbaths, and topical solutions without heavy metals or formaldehyde.

Footbaths can be installed in an automated milking parlor in exit lanes to ensure that each cow passes through it after being milked. Footbath products like DuraHoof by AgroChem can optimize the potency of copper sulfate for more cow passes, and reduce the overall cost of a footbath program. Producers looking for results without copper may prefer a product like HealMax, available in a footbath concentrate, spray or foam formulation. Both products can be used separately or in combination.

For more information about preventing lameness in your operation, contact your veterinarian or hoof trimmer today.

Assessing Lameness in Dairy Cows

By Dale Baker
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Expert

ACI Blog Pic

The multiple challenges of fighting the “good fight” against infectious hoof disease can make it tough to gauge the real extent of lameness in your dairy herd. They can also inadvertently lead to some cows being retreated for the same stubborn hoof lesion at every trimming, while others who may need it go untreated.

Noted veterinary researcher Dr. Nigel Cook of the University of Wisconsin–Madison has authored a new guide that more effectively systematizes lameness management in large and small dairy herds. Calling current statistics “deeply flawed,” Cook aims for a truer picture of the extent—and causes—of lameness within an operation, outlining a defined plan for permanently reducing lameness levels over time.

Several years in the making, Cook’s system starts with locomotion scoring at specific intervals, based on herd size, and monitors the proportion of cows with abnormal locomotion scores over time. Detailed recordkeeping throughout ensures that all cows are accurately assessed, while also identifying the prevailing causes of lameness.

Among the primary trigger factors for lameness, Cook’s study calls digital dermatitis (hairy heel wart) “by far the most common infectious lesion found in dairy herds.”

When you’re fighting digital dermatitis and other infectious hoof diseases, manage it by implementing a regular footbath program using copper or zinc sulfate footbaths with HoofMax® by AgroChem, Inc. Producers use HoofMax to increase copper/zinc potency which promotes hoof hardness, and helps fight digital dermatitis and other diseases.

If you’re looking to limit the amount of formaldehyde being used, producers may want to consider using a HealMax®, as well. This formaldehyde-free solution helps reduce the incidence, severity, duration and recurrence of digital dermatitis in lactating dairy cows.

For more information on protecting herd hoof health, consult your hoof trimmer or veterinarian.

SOURCE: Nigel B. Cook MRCVS, “A Guide to Investigating a Herd Lameness Problem,” University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.