Sunday, 16 April 2017

“What hoof trimming frequency is best for my herd”

 “What hoof trimming frequency is best for my herd” is an understandable question. It should be built on the following fundamental statement: “The goal of successful hoof care is to prevent serious problems and control lameness as early as possible”.
What does it take…?
Trimming is often a chore which does not appear on the top of a to-do list, that is when you are not addicted to trimming. The following question was raised in my trimming practice:
There are different opinions about what is the best hoof trimming frequency in a dairy herd. How often should my herd need trimming to ensure proper hoof health? What should a person look for?
Let me start with a quote:
Your herd and ££ gains are so much better when you prevent lameness from occurring (wherever you can)!”
The answer for an optimum hoof trimming schedule is to provide the best hoof care possible to prevent lameness, instead of treating lameness after it has occurred. Let me break this down a little further…
Providing proper cow care is the key to prevent lameness caused by environmental factors, such as:
  • Your herd’s housing facilities.
  • Feeding.
  • Flooring, etc.
These factors should be optimized in order to ensure optimal hoof care and herd health to prevent lameness. Talk to your professional advisers (hoof trimmers, veterinarians and nutritionists) about what you can do to improve.
Properly managing these factors will increase your bottom-line significantly!

Hoof trimming frequency will increase when infectious diseases are present.

Different infectious hoof diseases could be present in our herds. This may include:
These infectious hoof problems will require a more frequent trimming plan.

Also cow specific factors have an impact on Hoof Care

Beyond a preventative hoof care approach for the overall herd, there are also ‘cow-specific’ factors, such as:
  • Genetics.
  • Stage in lactation.
  • Previous lameness issues, etc.
Generally, one herd is perhaps seeing more lameness than another, but also one cow within the same herd tends to be more prone than the others. 

What is the best practice for hoof trimming scheduling?

Usually, a guideline for best hoof care practice is that every animal should be checked twice a year, emphasizing ‘checked’!
Over-trimming a cow does not benefit anyone.
The easy steps in short are: Lift the hoof. If the cow’s hoof looks good, you’ve confirmed and ensured adequate hoof health, and she’s good again for another 6 months!
An added value could be to increase the hoof trimming frequency for selected cows (I’m referring to that particular animal that is prone to lameness), and thereby making sure this group of ‘special-needs’ cows is checked again in, say, 3 months.
The impact of preventive trimming is often underestimated, and that, instead of preventative hoof care, the ‘curative’ approach is taken, which often only deals with lameness. Obviously this latter approach is not very profitable, and my advice is to determine the lameness rate in your herd and do the math. If it is higher than 2% per month, you should increase your hoof care efforts and trim more frequently.

Some producers like the idea of ‘whole herd’ trimming to get it done and over with, and others like to see their trimmer monthly. Either of these strategies is great, but the latter needs some proper record keeping. A few years ago, on the Hoof Care & Health Conference in Lancaster, PA, I met various professional trimmers. Even ‘large-dairy-trimmers’ are promoting the ‘whole-herd-at-once’ approach to hoof care: you get so much further ahead in your prevention efforts.
Regular hoof care is beneficial for your herd and your bottom line.
In addition to the above, I would like to emphasize the importance of the individual cow hoof care approach: when you notice her lame, you should check her foot!
 

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