The event was held on the ‘Focus Farm’ of Jim and Dean Wright near Portadown. The aim of the event was to provide dairy farmers with practical advice and information on how to improve the mobility of dairy cows.
The first event highlighted the importance of detecting lame cows early, through the use of mobility scoring. A demonstration of scoring cows took place in order to show key differences between the various scores, highlighting the importance of early detection and prompt treatment.
The second was delivered by Gareth Patterson of the Willow Veterinary Clinic, Portadown gave an overview of common hoof diseases experienced on farm, the typical risks factors associated with them and treatment methods. The importance of good record keeping was discussed in order to identify the most common diseases occurring on farm.
The third examined the management of footbaths - one of the most important tools on farm to control infectious hoof diseases such as digital dermatitis. Key aspects were discussed in terms of optimal footbath design, the importance of calibration, the frequency of footbathing and general management after footbathing. Farmers also heard about the latest research from AFBI Hillsborough on controlling digital dermatitis.
The final event examined the dairy cow environment with areas such as cow comfort, quality and cleanliness of floors and ventilation being discussed. Other areas highlighted as important were the management of post calving cows, in terms of extended resting time on straw and the transition of dairy heifers into the herd.
Two key messages to manage lameness were emphasised to the farmers attending:
Early detection and prompt treatment
Identify lame cows via mobility scoring
Promptly treat cows before they are severely lame
Make a record of the cow and hoof disease
Follow up if required
Use preventative foot trimming at key times during lactation
Footbath the entire herd regularly
Ensure good cow comfort and hygiene within cow buildings
Manage the transition cow to minimise stress
This is the first of four events which CAFRE are holding in relation to hoof health, with the other three events due to take place in March this year. This is an excellent opportunity to discuss aspects of mobility improvement with veterinary practitioners, CAFRE and AFBI staff. For more information contact your local CAFRE Dairying Development Adviser.