Feb, 2015

Lameness awareness through calving and early spring

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A lot of lameness that occurs later in springtime is due to conditions that occur while animals are housed, calving, dietary factors and environmental factors e.g. housing, scrapers, cubicles etc.

In order to minimise lameness farmers need to be aware of these problems and deal with them.

1. Changes at calving
• Increase movement of pedal bone due to softening of ligaments
• Changes in diet
• Stress
• Increase in laminitis (claw disease) due to calving and change of diet
2. Management to reduce lameness (laminitis)
• Gradual introduction of concentrates, especially to heifers
• Avoid walking long distances, especially after calving. Keep freshly calved cows near for up to 48 hours to allow pedal bone to settle back
• Gentle handling and movement around yard
• Good access to food and water
• Have roads in good condition as possible

Minimise risk of Mortillaro infection
Mortillaro (Digitial Dermatitis) is one of the most common infections of the hooves that cause lameness. As DD is very infectious, it is important farmers recognise it at a very early stage and deal with it.

Can be recognised by strawberry type legion in the heel and front of the claw, when rubbed it bleeds with a bad smell.

Also the hair stands up in and around the area of infection.

During and after calving there is an increase in the spread of Digital Dermatitis or Mortillaro due to animals lower immune system, stress (especially in heifers) and softer claws.

If a problem occurs on your farm immediate action is needed;

• Foot bathing with antibiotic footbath (ask vet re-remedy)
• Continue with ordinary footbath to prevent problem e.g. bluestone and healthy hooves, Provita etc.
• Regular scraping of passageways
• Remove build up of slurry at the end of passageways
• Eliminate pooling of water or slurry
• Reduce stress on animals (especially heifers bulling and new environment)

Note: Do not allow cows to go badly lame, lift and check at early stages of lameness.

Lameness observation
 Observe cows walking in yards or roadways;
 Cows walking stiffly – stage 1 lameness
 Cows walking with slight limp – stage 2 lameness
 Cows with severe lameness – stage 3 lameness

Observe cows during milking;
1. Check heel and claws for DD legion to be teated
2. Overgrown claws-trimming
3. Significant difference between inner and outer claw need to be trimmed to distribute weight evenly

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