It’s stating the obvious to emphasise that a dairy cow needs good, well cared for feet. But optimum hoofcare is far from a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Llandeilo based Mendip Vets are offering advanced, customised, training courses in cattle foot trimming using the White Line Atlas technique
Dr Sotirios Karvountzis explains that the White Line Atlas suits all types of cattle and management systems, including housed cattle in a high-wear environment or Jersey cows, with their smaller feet.
He says it’s critically important to use the right approach, given that the cow’s productivity and longevity depend on her feet. And with the average Holstein cow, weighing 700kg, bearing 79kg of that bodyweight on just 7cm of each hind claw and even more on the front, it’s evident that the right procedure is vital.
Dr Karvountzis says: “The principle of the White Line Atlas technique is to strengthen the white line, a structure that represents the weakest link on the sole of the foot, by keeping it level.
“There are three types of horn in the sole of the foot and this creates a weakness in the structure. These are: the wall horn on the outside, the solar horn on the inside and the white line in the middle that connects the two.
“A chain is as strong as its weakest link and in this case the weakest component is the white line. To strengthen the white line, we need to keep the three layers level. The increased stability also means that the energy is dispersed evenly throughout the foot.
“This strengthening takes the form of a circle of stability on the sole of the foot, generating a stable profile for the foot. The circle comprises the whole of the two white lines of each foot, with the aim of dispersing the energy created by weight bearing during standing or walking, evenly between the two claws of each foot.”
A further aim of the technique is to allow the cow to self regulate the wear of the horn on its two claws. The fact that the cow is walking leads to ‘self-trimming’ of specific, high wear, areas of the foot, such as the tip of the toe. This puts on a further responsibility on vets, trimmers, farmers to be careful not to remove too much horn from these areas.
Dr Karvountzis explains that attention to assessing the biomarkers is also important in achieving the correct trim, rather than measuring the length or angle of the foot.
He stresses: “We assess, we do not measure. The biomarkers we are interested are the White Line, the Heel Fulcrum, the Pressure Ridge, the Break-over Point, the Sole Horn Thickness and the Hairline.”
In essence, Dr Karvountzis says “The animal provides us with the evidence, we then do the rest”.
See our courses on hoof care using the White Line Atlas Technique