The $20,000 Hoofcare Dilemma: Combat lameness before it hits you in the pocket

The $20,000 Hoofcare Dilemma: Combat lameness before it hits you in the pocket

1 September 2021

When there's lameness in a dairy herd, the wider impact it has on animal welfare, productivity and economic return can be crippling. Studies in New Zealand suggest an average of 26% of cows in large herds have some form of lameness over the course of a year.

The cost of a lame cow is estimated at $400-$500 per cow, per season, which really adds up. A 400-cow New Zealand dairy farm with 10% of cows lame in a season would cost the farm $20,000. On a larger 1000-cow farm (at average lameness rates) lameness costs could be more than $100,000 in direct and indirect costs.

Proactive management of hoof care, namely prevention, early identification and treatment can not only improve animal health and wellbeing but greatly benefit your business by reducing the cost of lameness comparatively.

Spring and mating are the periods when most lameness occurs in New Zealand dairy herds so now is the right time to be thinking about your hoof care management programme.

Prevention:
  • Herd management - distances walked, cows should be walking at their own pace
  • Race quality and design
  • Hoof health from nutrition
  • Hoof mats or footbaths to apply minerals at entrance to the dairy shed
  • Proactive trimming of hoof claws
Methods to aid recovery:

Choose your system based on both the injury itself and the time the injury will take to recover. Remove pressure from the affected claw by applying a block or shoe to the healthy claw.

Early Intervention:

Short-term blocking system lasting one to two weeks e.g. Walkease (from $8/cow) - provides relief to fast curing injuries. Medium-term recovery:

Two to four week blocking system with longer wearing wooden block - both the Bovi-Bond and Septicare adhesive systems (from $14/cow). Longer-term recovery with sidewall support Four weeks or greater recovery time. Ideally, a low-profile shoe, e.g. Hoofers, to reduce the impact on the foot is applied to the healthy claw (approx. $33/cow). Remove the shoe once the claw has recovered.

Essentials for your hoofcare toolbox:
  • Sharp hoof knives
  • Knife sharpener
  • Hoof trimmer, single or double action
  • Hoof rasp
  • Vet rope
  • Hoof mats / footbaths
  • Blocking systems for short, medium and longer-term use. Using the right product will reduce the cost of treatment
Best practice:
  • Proactive treatment / identification
  • Hoof lifting system
  • Vet race belly strap
  • Protective / Adhesive spray
  • Marking straps to help identify lames

Don't let lameness hit you in the pocket this spring. Proactive management is the key in reducing the financial impact on your farming business and enhancing the well-being of your animals.

Visit your local Farm Source store to enquire about these hoofcare systems and familiarise yourself with best practice use for optimum success.