Cows Yield on their Feet

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I find as I go about my daily work, caring for cows and training farmers and other veterinary professionals in the latest techniques, that daily routines are increasingly sophisticated. Proactive and preventive health care in the dairy herd on a regular basis is vital, whether on the smaller dairy farms or at Super Dairy scale.

Calving, fertility, milk yield and quality are all literally and figuratively under the microscope. Yet all this effort and money spent is only worthwhile if each of the cow’s feet are in the very best condition.

Well balanced back claws can withstand the weight of a 80kg person, through a horn thickness in the sole of the foot of just 7mm.  Achieving optimum performance in the feet should be part of the overall herd planning, as it takes around 30 months for the fat-pad that fills the heel of the foot to fully develop.

It should be a consideration when we aim to calve cows for the first time at 22-24 months of age, especially as the sole of the foot serves more than one function. The tip or the toe is responsible for weight bearing (7mm for 80Kg) and the heel is acts as a pump helping heart blood pressure to circulate blood and its nutrients to the extremities, the tip of the foot.

An important point to bear in mind is that cows were ‘designed’ to walk on surfaces that gave way under their weight, ie soil, when they lived in the wild. Now that they are domesticated and tread hard surfaces, it is our responsibility to ensure their feet do not overgrow and to prevent foot damage.

Here again the means of preventing environmental hoof problems – difficult tracks, broken concrete etc – and the actual health care are becoming ever more sophisticated. Hoofcare is rightly regarded as more of a priority and techniques are becoming ever more refined and shoes, blocks and glues are becoming everyday words with regard to cows.

Best results are achieved when we monitor farm mobility and lameness results and compare performance on various farms. The optimum situation is when the mobility scorer, foot trimmer, vet and farmer work together to devise a plan to prevent lameness.

It’s with this in mind that Mendip Vets is working with Wessex Hoofcare as the Cattle Hoofcare Institute, offering a practical and interactive one day course on hoof trimming techniques and minor surgical procedures on the foot. The course is specifically geared for veterinary professionals, with a maximum of eight delegates per session, and is farm and classroom based.

The organisers’ combined hoofcare experience brings in knowledge from the Dutch 5-step technique to the Canadian White Line Atlas method and a perspective on when one method is more appropriate than the other.  The Dutch 5-step technique is modular and easy to teach, but the Canadian White Line Atlas is best suited for high-wear environments (indoor cattle) and Jersey herds (where the 5-step technique is difficult to apply, due to their small feet).

The surgical section of the course includes practice on cadaver feet for intravenous regional anaesthesia, nerve blocks, debriding lesions, flushing of the joint and how and when to resort to digit amputation.

Your course tutors are:

Dr Sotirios Karvountzis MRCVS

Sotirios has more than 20 years’ experience as a vet and foot trimmer. He holds the Dutch Diploma in Cattle Hoofcare, the NPTC Level 3 Certificate of Competence in Cattle Foot Trimming, he is a White Line Atlas Hoof Trimming Instructor, an AHDB Mobility Mentor, a RoMS Mobility Scorer and Approved Trainer, a LANTRA Freelance Instructor, City & Guilds NPTC Assessor and CowSignals Master Trainer.

Rob Todd

Rob has been a leading independent hoof trimmer for more than 15 years and is a Cat 1 Dutch Diploma holder as well as a RoMS Mobility Scorer. Rob is a leading innovator in the treatment of lameness in cattle. He has designed and manufactured an award winning range of shoes, blocks, glues and treatments, which are sold around the world.

To book or for more information please visit here.