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New lameness initiative cuts costs and improves welfare for dairy cattle

10 March 2021

AHDB

Investing in concrete grooving helped UK dairy farmer Grant Hartman save £24,000 by reducing cow casualties due to slipping.

Grant was unhappy with the number of casualty cows which had peaked to unacceptable numbers and engaged Mobility Mentor Dr Nick Bell to conduct AHDB’s new Healthy Feet Lite Programme.

The initiative, a new, simpler version of AHDB’s existing Healthy Feet Programme, makes improved hoof health more accessible to a wider range of farmers.

Nick’s role as Mobility Mentor was to assess the cow’s environment and identify risks to hoof health. Additionally, he reviewed trimming and treatment records to identify the main causes of lameness. Grant’s herd was also mobility scored by a ROMS accredited scorer.

Grant said: “Being involved in Healthy Feet Lite reassured us that our cows had optimal lying comfort with deep bedded sand, optimal cubicle dimensions and lunging space. However, the disadvantage of sand is that it is abrasive creating a polished and slippery flooring surface which was resulting in too many cows slipping. We are pleased to see a big reduction in casualty numbers and are happy with the return in investment and general improvement to animal welfare.”

Grant’s team agreed a list of short actions, which as well as the new grooving included adding rubber matting at the parlour exit to reduce hoof pressure and incidence of white line disease within the herd.

Parlour loading and exit times have already reduced by 20 to 30 minutes for each milking, saving an hour a day for the three members of staff involved.

Jenny Gibbons, AHDB’s Animal Health and Welfare Senior Scientist, said: “The biggest advantage of Healthy Feet Lite is having a fresh pair of eyes from the Mobility Mentor on your farm to assess risks to hoof health that might otherwise go unnoticed. Grant’s entire team really embraced Healthy Feet Lite and seen a 10% improvement in lameness which is very rewarding for the staff and all involved.”

The assessment and recommendations for the programme took around two to three hours to complete, with a follow up phone call a few weeks later. A review can be scheduled again after 6 or 12 months to re-evaluate and assess progress against actions.

Further details about Healthy Feet Lite can be found here.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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