Category Research

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.

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

Digital Dermatitis Control Starts with Heifers

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

dairy cow hoof healthSpring time means freshening heifers for many dairy producers. New cows in the milking herd bring increased milk production and perhaps a few other things, like digital dermatitis.

To control the spread of digital dermatitis, studies have suggested that treatment of the disease must start with heifers.

“Digital dermatitis control must start during the heifer-rearing period,” says Dr. Nigel Cook of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who co-authored a recent study that looked at the progression of digital dermatitis in a dairy herd over 5 years. The results suggested that prompt topical treatment throughout the life cycle of a cow can help control digital dermatitis.

Also called hairy heel warts, digital dermatitis is an infectious disease that can lead to lameness in dairy cows. The disease can be managed through copper or zinc sulfate footbaths or topical treatments. Afflicted cows will have reddened and painful wart-like areas on their hooves.

“If your lactating herd has digital dermatitis and there is no dry cow or pre-lactating heifer preventative footbath program, you will always be taking two steps forward and three steps back,” says Jamie Sullivan in a recent article published in Progressive Dairyman.

Sullivan calls digital dermatitis “mastitis of the foot,” and suggests handling it the same way that mastitis is treated. “If a cow has mastitis, would you just dip her teats more?” she asks, “No. Apply the same concept for footbaths and digital dermatitis.”

Footbath products like HoofMax can cut the cost of a footbath program by using up to 80% less copper sulfate. HealMax Footbath Concentrate delivers results without the use of formaldehyde, and is ideal for whole-herd application HealMax Spray can be applied in the milking parlor as needed, and HealMax Foam is ideal for whole-herd application.

For more information about footbathing your heifers, talk to your hoof trimmer or veterinarian.

Footbath Schedule for Your Dairy Cows

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

Dairy cow footbathAlthough the winter months may bring a schedule of its own, your dairy footbath schedule should not fall to the wayside. Proper footbathing at regular intervals helps prevent the spread of infectious hoof diseases. It can also lead to less lameness from painful dairy cow hoof problems.

Some producers may wonder, what is the main criterion for a dairy footbath schedule?

The condition of the cows’ legs determines dairy footbath schedules. “The more manure contamination on cows’ lower legs, the more frequently we must footbath. While some dairies with excellent leg hygiene may use a footbath only once a week, others must footbath 5 to 7 days per week,” says Dr. Nigel Cook of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and creator of the scoring system.

As shown in the graph below, the scoring of a leg depends on its cleanliness; the higher the score, the dirtier the leg. Once a producer has scored all legs in the milking herd, the percentage of cows scoring a 3 or 4 determines how often the herd should go through a footbath (see graph below).

Dairy cow footbath, scoring chartSource: Footbath alternatives

Another factor that influences footbathing is a cow’s lactation. “Early lactation cows should be footbathed at the maximum frequency determined by the leg hygiene,” says Dr. Cook.

Producers should continue to monitor leg hygiene to alter their footbathing schedule as needed.

Footbath additives such as HealMax and HoofMax can help producers with overall hoof hygiene. HealMax delivers results without heavy metals or formaldehyde. HoofMax can help producers reduce their copper sulfate usage by up to 80%, lowering the cost of a footbath program.

Talk to your veterinarian or hoof trimmer for more information about footbath schedules and treatments.

Winter Hoof Care

By Dale Baker and Chip Hendrickson
AgroChem Hoof Care Technical Experts

Winter is an important time to keep hoof health in mind. Footbath schedules and treatments may alter due to freezing temperatures. Although many anti-microbials may not be active during the winter months, hairy heel wart bacteria remain effective throughout the year.

Research done by Dr. Nigel Cook shows that January through March are when infectious lesions that lead to lameness are most active (see graph below). Dr. Cook examined 10 Wisconsin dairy farms over a one-year period to collect this data. “Cold weather during the late winter may lead to manure handling problems in the alleys and reduced frequency of the foot-bathing, triggering an elevation in the rate of new [digital dermatitis] infections,” says Dr. Cook.

AgroChem winter hoof care graph

Source: Progressive Dairyman

In freezing temperatures, footbath additives can become less effective. Formaldehyde loses its effectiveness below 45 degrees. HealMax Footbath Concentrate uses no heavy metals or formaldehyde to stay effective in cooler temperatures.

As an alternative to footbaths, farmers may consider using topical treatments in the milking parlor. HealMax Spray or Foam can be applied during milkings to slow down the progression of hairy heel warts.

For more information about cold-weather hoof care, contact your hoof trimmer or veterinarian 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.

What dairy farmers should know about NPEs

By Dale Baker
AgroChem Inc. Hoof Care Technical Expert

environmental shot

As you may know, NPEs (Nonylphenol Exthoxylates) are widely used to manufacture teat dips and dairy cleaning agents. They are endocrine disrupters that are produced in large volumes and are highly toxic to aquatic life. They also can have negative effects on both animals and humans. At one time, NPEs were commonly used in household laundry detergents but in 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and detergent manufacturers decided to eliminate them.

NPEs are now banned by the European Union. Some milk buyers in Europe, China and other countries are no longer purchasing milk from farms that use NPEs.

If you are using NPEs in any of your dairy products you may want to consider switching to 100% NPE-free solutions. The vast majority of AgroChem teat dips, detergents, sanitizers — and, yes, hoof care products — are made using safer alternatives that have not been shown to be toxic to aquatic life, nor genotoxic mutagenic, or carcinogenic.

For more information on the safer, NPE-free solutions for your dairy operation, consult your hoof trimmer or veterinarian.

Source:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Nonylphenol (NP) and Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs) Action Plan. August 18, 2010. http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/actionplans/RIN2070-ZA09_NP-NPEs%20Action%20Plan_Final_2010-08-09.pdf