For most dairies, foot health is not a question of lameness, but rather the extent and severity of the problem. It is important to identify whether lameness is the result of infectious or non-infectious lesions and a management programme must be introduced to ensure control and prevention of hoof problems. Cows with healthy, pain-free feet eat better, milk better and breed better, ensuring longevity in the herd and ultimately a more profitable dairy farm.
One of the tools available to dairy farmers is locomotion scoring – an effective way of detecting claw (hoof) disorders early, monitoring prevalence of lameness, comparing incidence and severity of lameness and identifying cows for hoof trimming. The earlier cows are detected the better the herd management. Training a farm worker to identify cows scoring 2 or 3 early, without having to bring the whole herd in for locomotion scoring, can save a lot of time. Cows scoring 2 or 3 should be examined and trimmed to prevent more serious problems. Trimming should only be performed by a competent trimmer.
Combining locomotion scoring with claw lesion identification helps to identify the cause of the lameness. For instance, if you see several lame cows owing to digital dermatitis after calving, you should implement a more aggressive control programme for cows during the dry period and heifers (such as foot bathing or spraying). Alternatively, if you observe sole ulcers in cows following a period of heat stress, you should look at increasing the number of fans and sprinklers. Finally, recording locomotion scores and hoof lesions helps to determine the effectiveness of changes in management programmes.
The most widely promoted locomotion scoring system operates on a five-point scale. The system is intuitive and easy to learn and implement. It observes cows when standing and walking, with special emphasis on back posture, although this is not the only indicator of lameness. It is important to perform scoring on a flat, dry walking surface, which provides good traction where the cow is allowed to walk at her own speed.
Zinpro and Chemuniqué are committed to improving your cow’s hoof health. For us, feet come first!
For a copy of the locomotion scoring/ claw trimming charts or more information regarding hoof health, please e-mail your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.