- Digital Dermatitis
- Herd Health
Today the British Dairy Farmer produces milk in many different ways, from a spring calving low input system to an intensive, high yielding system with many other methods in-between. So here at hooftrimming Ltd, we aim to please everyone by offering two different kinds of Hoof Trimming visits.
Routine visits can be arranged for Steve to trim on a regular basis, these can be as often as you require, from weekly to 6 weekly visits. We will work with you to organise Steve’s visits for a convenient time and date, so you can plan around them. Steve will look at and treat all of the cows you have selected, and you will be charged for the service provided for each individual cow.
Steve is also able to visit on an ad-hoc basis, as and when you need. If you need a one off trimming visit, please call the office and we will fit you in as soon as possible. This would also be charged for the service Steve provides to each individual cow.
Whichever suits you best, you will always be provided with a detailed cattle foot report sheet which you can then review with your herdsman, vet, nutritionist or Farm Assurance scheme.
Benefits of Regular trimming
A single case of lameness costs about the same as trimming 18 cows using a professional trimmer.
Concrete in sheds and yards is very abrasive and can lead to an unbalanced amount of wear on a cow’s claw. The outer heel will get worn a lot quicker and stimulate the horn growth. Bruising is also associated with concrete and can lead to altered load bearing when cattle are moving; this results in further imbalance and eventually will lead to severe lameness. This creates a vicious circle as load bearing and movement alters, and horn wear versus growth becomes increasingly unbalanced. Likewise, a claw that is badly trimmed becomes unstable on concrete, creating pain and discomfort for the cow and increasing the risk of future lameness.
Regular trimming also helps to reduce the spread and severity of Digital Dermatitis within a herd. Digital Dermatitis is a major contributor to lameness amongst dairy cattle because it is highly contagious and will spread rapidly.
Once a cow has chronic lameness, the normal balance of growth and wear of horn become permanently imbalanced, due to altered load bearing and mobility.
90% of lameness in dairy cows arises from conditions of the feet. Hoof trimming can improve mobility and Herd Health if done correctly. Timely claw trimming can also prevent lameness. However, if done incorrectly, hoof trimming can be a waste of time, or worse still it can exacerbate lameness. The Dutch 5 Step method of claw trimming is the internationally accepted approach to effective claw trimming, and should form a part any herd claw trimming regime.
The Dutch 5 Step Method that Steve follows.
Routine Foot Trimming
1) Trim toe length to 7.5cm approx.
2) Match untrimmed claw to this.
3) Dish out
4) Relieve weight off painful claw
5) Remove loose/under-run horn and hard ridges
Digital dermatitis is a highly contagious, erosive infection usually affecting the skin on the bulbs of the heel, but it can also be found between the digits or in the area of the coronary band. It is caused by bacteria called Treponemes and it causes mild to moderate lameness without swelling unless a secondary infection is present.
It is essentially mastitis of the feet, and like mastitis it should be controlled by environmental hygiene, regular disinfection and treatment of clinical cases to remove the reservoir of infection. It is likely that you will get a greater economic benefit from daily/weekly foot bathing than any other change you make on your farm. It should be ensured that the footbath is changed every 200 cows, this may change depending on the degree of contamination of the feet as they enter the footbath and the overall volume of the footbath relative to the number of cows. Dry cows should go through the footbath at least twice a week.
Digital Dermatitis is easy to kill but extremely hard to get rid of. The disease is more prevalent in housed herds with poor hygiene and wet conditions. There is a higher instance of digital dermatitis during September-November. Contact with slurry aids development of digital dermatitis.
The best way to control the disease is to incorporate a footbath as a regular regimen, using copper sulphate to control Digital Dermatitis, increasing alley scraping, more bedding in stalls, etc.
Studies show that 90% of digital dermatitis cases are on the hind feet.
Up to 89% of UK dairy cattle are affected by digital dermatitis.
Digital Dermatitis affects over 40% of cows in infected herds and costs the farmer on average £75.57 per case, making the annual cost per average farm roughly £3000 per 100 cows per year.
Inter-digital dermatitis/ foul in the foot costs the farmer £154.31 per case.
It is often brought into the herd by bought in cattle, often showing no signs of lameness.
It was first reported in Italy in 1974. Since its appearance in the UK in 1987 it has spread widely and is thought to affect at least 70% of UK herds.
Preventing Digital Dermatitis
Adequate floor space / stocking density.
Slats are better than solid concrete as they allow slurry to drain away.
Automatic scrapers – frequency, distance, design
Regular manual scraping practices.
2. Foot bathing
Frequency- once/twice per week.
Disinfectant before antibiotic, never use plain water- this will spread disease.
Protocol should be designed with your vet.
The cost to fill a 200 litre bath is approximately £750 per year per 100 cows making it an extremely cost-effective control measure.
3. Treatment of individual cases
Regular foot trimming helps assess and treat individual cases early on.
Early detection and treatment means better and faster recovery.
Adequate treatment- get advice from your vet/trimmer.
4. Functional foot trimming
Ensure the hoof is cut to the correct length and foot angle.
Minimises Digital Dermatitis/Inter digital Dermatitis/foul of the foot.
Cattle health is vital for maximum production, since cattle must be healthy to produce a good amount of milk. To ensure all cattle are in the best of health it is important that they are vaccinated. A vaccination plan is essential for maintaining herd vaccinations. Because each dairy business is different, it is usually more effective when a plan is designed for that particular farm, taking into account their individual needs and issues, and working together with your vet. The plan should include which diseases to vaccinate against, which animals need vaccinating and when the cattle will benefit the most from the protection of a vaccine.
Vaccinations are only one part of a whole herd health plan, they cannot compensate for poor hygiene and ventilation or existing poor herd health. One of the most common reasons why some vaccinations do not work is failure to administer a booster vaccine in the correct timeframe.
Vaccinations help to reduce the severity of a disease by stimulating the natural immune system to provide its own protection against disease.
The introduction of new animals is a huge threat to the health of your original herd. The risk is also equal for the animals being introduced to the herd. In order to minimise the risks involved when introducing new stock, various questions should be asked and new cattle should be isolated until tests have been carried out and ,where appropriate, vaccines and treatments given.
Good biosecurity is a vital part of keeping new disease away from animals. It also helps to improve farm efficiency, protect neighbouring farms and the countryside.
Disease may not always be visible, especially in the early stages, so it is important to promote a good biosecurity routine, not just when there is a major disease outbreak. It is important that boots, hands and anything that may come into contact with cattle are sanitised before moving into a different area or onto a different farm.
Fertility is another major factor that affects the efficiency of any dairy herd. It accounts for one of the major costs of production and is also an area where significant improvements can be made.
Poor dairy fertility has many consequences, both direct and indirect. Consequences include:
Loss of milk production through too many dry days or peak yield traded for later lactation yield.
Disruption to the calving season and milk production pattern.
Loss of mature animal milk yields through early culling.
Extra veterinary costs.
Reduced calf sales.
Additional AI costs.
Enforced culling resulting in more replacements being reared or bought.
Loss of valuable genetics.
Linkage with other problems such as nutritional imbalances and production shortfalls.
The average case of lameness costs the farmer £323.
The average loss in productivity is 400 litres, and can start 4 months before lameness is seen and lasts 5 months after treatment.
The average herd suffers lameness in approximately 25% of its cows per year.
Fertility interval can increase by 36-50 days.
Conception rate can be reduced by 25%.
Double the risk of culling in the first half of lactation.
In the average case of lameness 82% of the costs were due to reduced fertility and milk yield with vet costs contributing 1%.
Causes of lameness
Foul in the foot
Sole bruising and laminitis
Cubicle discomfort and general management
Locomotion scoring on a daily/weekly basis will help identify cows with potential issues and overgrown hooves, so these can be treated effectively.
Regular trimming and inspection.
Foot trimming of heifers before first calving.
Foot trimming 100 days into lactation.
Copper sulphate formalin footbaths.
Minimise cow contact with slurry.
Treat new stock with antibiotic footbath and keep separate for 2 weeks before being foot bathed again and mixed with the existing herd if possible.
Preventative foot trimming can help reduce hoof problems including those of lameness and claw diseases. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that foot trimming is done correctly and by a professionally trained foot trimmer. However, over trimming or routine trimming in the wrong circumstances can have detrimental effects on cattle’s mobility and the chances of lameness are dramatically increased. Trimming should be avoided:
During the last 4 weeks of pregnancy
During the first 4 weeks of lactation when a cow is freshly calved, as cows are under strain and horn growth is less than wear, raising the risk of a thin sole after trimming.
When cows are about to be housed, as there is a risk of thinner soles and bruising due to horn wear being greater than growth for a few weeks.
If cows are turned out on very long or abrasive tracks (tarmac/concrete/sleepers).
Cattle with feet that are unbalanced or swollen and infected can become lame. They can quickly lose weight from not eating/drinking and then milk production drops. Farmers can suffer from massive losses if their cattle’s hooves aren’t properly trimmed/treated.
Treatment of lame cows
First you will need to identify which cows need examining. Locomotion scoring simplifies the task of identifying lame animals and is a useful part of your herd management. It helps you spot cattle that need their hooves trimming or treating. It also enables early identification of potential hoof disorders before they become painful. A simple system of scoring cows is to grade them 0-3, 0 being normal and good condition, through to 3, being very lame. You can find guidance at www.cattle-lameness.org.uk
A lame cow should have its feet examined by a trimmer or a vet, within 48 hours of going lame, or sooner if very lame. If left, the infection can penetrate into deeper tissues and the condition will worsen.
Once the hooves are examined and the source of the lameness found, then a wooden block is bonded onto the good hoof by means of the synthetic material. By this added height to the good hoof, the affected one is relieved of the load and put at rest. This again relieves the pain and directly reduces laming.