Cattle can’t walk without feet, so taking care of their mobility is hugely important. Healthy feet means weight gain and good carcass quality. Most importantly though, healthy feet improve comfort and wellbeing. At Eagle Direct we value animal wellbeing, staff satisfaction and people who love good trade practice. We believe in Health by Design- designing a healthy environment for the animals using systems that work.
4 Types of Lameness:
- White line lesions are the most common, and is found on the outside claws of the back feet. Often stones are found within the cracks, however white line lesions are not caused by the stones, just exacerbated by them.
- Foot rot can be identified by swelling or lesions on the skin between the claws that sometimes have yellow pus or discharge. Foot rot is the only type of lameness that can be treated by antibiotics.
- Toe Ulcers or Necrosis is seen after transport where the cattle might have broken a toes from moving around a lot. It can also be caused by over trimming the hoof.
- Overgrown Feet is the biggest reason for lameness in long fed cattle because their hooves grow five millimetres per month. One problem for overgrown feet is that the toes grow faster than the U. The pedal bone turns backwards and places pressure on the Corium and destroying the fat bag. Another is when the claws break off too short, causing toe necrosis.
A note for managers and owners is that we never want to see any lameness on the toe area or front claws. Lameness here means there is problems with the facilities and the way the cattle are being handled or trimmed.
- Heat Stress: We can’t discuss hoof health without discussing heat stress as they are so linked. When a cow’s body reaches 39 degrees they begin overheating, causing them to stand up in order to cool their bodies down even if they are tired or have sore feet. Lying down assists with blood circulation that doesn’t occur when they stand, causing ulcers to form. The important thing to note, is that while heat stress can cause lameness, they might not occur at the same time. Lameness can develop one to two months later when the horn has worn through and the results can be physically seen.
- Hoof Growth: In a period of 15 months, a hoof can grow 75mm. Lack of wear such as in a feed lot or if the ground isn’t coarse enough, the hoof can become overgrown. This is a big problem for long fed cattle who are in a feed lot for 400-500 days.
To identify lameness, watch out for are an arched back, shorter strides indicating a locomotion impairment, excess saliva indicating pain and if they are at the back of their herd. Lameness can also be seen by looking at daily weight gains over a month or so to identify lower averages.
How to improve production, welfare and happiness:
Eagle Direct uses the Comfort Hoof Care Chute. What we’ve found is that by attending to trimming only on lame animals, we forget about the functional trim which is looking at the angle on the claws. The aim of Functional trimming is to shift the weight of the cow from where the pedal bone is pinching, causing the cow to be walking more on the toe. To do this we create around a 52 degree angle hoof which is very similar to a calf hoof, restoring angle and balance to the two claws. This reduces the strain on the tendons, giving the claws greater function and eliminating pain. Trimming at 150 days, and again at 300 gives us the data we need to identify potential causes and reduce lameness overall.
Eagle Direct provides ongoing support, training and equipment all across the country. We are more than happy to provide consultations to discover the particular areas that need attention in your yard. Our access to world leaders in the industry give us a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw upon, including the most recent research. We can review any records and create and support ongoing strategies to help improve hoof health and profitability.
In order to create hoof health champions we want to connect with you, your employees and your managers. We’re passionate about making connections and supporting you in a practical, every day way that actually makes a difference.
So check out our webinar here: YouTube or give us a call on 6394 6064 to get started.