Prolonged drought in Australia and a downturn in agriculture in the US and Ukraine are affecting the European farm machinery sector.
To help farmers prevent and detect lameness in their herds, Dairy Australia has launched a website with a range of practical and easy-to-use resources. It includes the Healthy Hooves lameness scoring system which enables dairy farmers to monitor the number of lame cows in the herd.
Dairy Australia program development manager Erika Oakes said that by regularly scoring their herd, farmers will be able to assess their current lameness level and set a target for the herd, while assessing what changes need to be made onfarm to reach the target.
"Lame cows are harder to get in calf, have reduced milk production and lower body condition scores. Putting effort into preventing lameness is far better than waiting until cows need treatment," Oakes says.
"We have developed a simple lameness scoring system for our Australian conditions to help farmers prevent lameness and detect issues early."
The Healthy Hooves 4 step lameness scoring system uses different aspects of the cow's movement to detect levels of lameness including stride length, walking speed or evenness, back position and head position.
The website presents short videos that show how to lameness score, including some examples to test how well you score different cows. Other videos cover other aspects of prevention, treatment and management of lameness such as tracks, cow flow, examining lame cows and treatment of common foot problems.
A full colour lameness scoring poster is also available to assist with training staff to use lameness scoring and can be downloaded online or ordered via the website.
How to score lameness
• Scoring should occur at least once a month.
• It should be done at a time when the whole herd can be assessed. Ideally this can be done as the cows are walking out of the dairy after milking.
• Score cows on an even, hard, non-slip surface.
• Look at the foot placement, arching of the back and bobbing of the head to determine the level of lameness.
• Record how many cows score 0 and 1.
• Any cow that is a score 2 or 3 should be recorded and cut out for treatment as soon as possible.
Benefits of regular scoring
• Monitors the effectiveness of your lameness prevention plan
• Allows prompt detection and treatment of lame cows
• Improves cow comfort, herd health and milk production.
Visit healthyhooves.dairyaustralia.com.au for more information.