Lameness is something that can be prevented and managed. Taking the time to set up a regular hoof maintenance schedule with a trimmer is worth the cost of a lame cow. Experts recommend twice a year trimming, typically done mid-lactation and at dry-off. However, create a schedule that works best for your animals and operation. Cows that are in pain won’t get up to walk and eat as much. Therefore, they won’t produce as much compared to when they are healthy.
A cow’s hooves are designed to spread the weight of the animal as evenly as possible. Unfortunately, there is a very small surface area that holds the entire weight of the animal. Unevenly worn hooves won’t balance their weight, which may cause pain or lameness issues. Keeping animals in a clean, dry environment is essential to hoof health. Comfortable bedding makes animals want to lay down and get off their feet.
Trimmers examine hooves, remove excess growth, and create an even surface to walk upon. There are two different styles trimmers will utilize on cows, either a flat or angled sole. This is based on preference and geography of the region. There is no scientific evidence supporting one method over the other. When cows walk, most of their weight is focused on the outside rear claws and inside front claws. A good trimmer will pay extra attention to these areas, as they are the greatest point of support for the animal.
If left in wet or muddy conditions, hooves will soften, making them easier to damage or become infected. Soft hooves bruise easier under the weight of the cow if she spends a lot of time on her feet. Digital dermatitis (hairy heel wart) infection can occur under these conditions. Warts cause tenderness and are highly contagious. Copper foot baths and antibiotics are the best methods of treatment.
Keeping hooves trimmed regularly allows a close-up view of potential dangers that are brewing. Use this opportunity to treat any arising issues before they have a chance to develop.
“Hoof Care for the Dairy Cow” Farming Magazine