Cattle may be at increased risk of foot problems during housing, as a result of recent wet weather, Bayer Animal Health has warned.
Specialist lameness vet Sara Pedersen says wet weather conditions mean cows’ feet may be softer at housing, resulting in greater risk of bruising from concrete surfaces.
“Over time, this bruising can lead to sole ulcers,” she explains. “So reducing standing times and maximising lying time is key to preventing lameness issues developing during winter.”
With housed cows having increased contact with slurry and spending more time standing on concrete, maintaining foot health becomes more challenging. But while the risk of lameness increases, Sara says housing is the “perfect opportunity” to review and optimise management protocols.
Comfort of the lying surface is crucial in influencing how much time cows spend lying down and she recommends checking all cubicles are accessible and any damage or worn mattresses are repaired.
“Cow management at milking can also be reviewed,” she adds. “If cows are being milked twice daily and spending more than an hour standing for each milking, this can mean too much time spent away from cubicles, which has a knock-on effect on lying times.”
Mobility scoring is important all-year-round and should ideally be done every week or fortnight, Sara advises,as early detection and treatment of lameness is important for successful treatment.
To treat bruising, white line and sole ulcers, she recommends trimming out the lesion, applying a block to the sound claw and using an NSAID for pain relief and swelling.
“It’s beneficial to use an NSAID, such as Dinalgen, in early cases of lameness to reduce swelling of the soft tissues in the foot, as it is thought this can help minimise permanent changes to the pedal bone which are associated with chronic lameness.
“Relieving pain also helps to maintain appetite and therefore can reduce impacts on production while the cow recovers.”