Proper hoof care should be a top priority in your herd, says Paul Windschitl, dairy nutritionist for Hubbard Feeds. Taking good care of cows' feet not only reduces lameness but also helps minimize mastitis, cow injury and reproduction problems. Here are Windschitl's recommendations:
- Implement routine hoof trimming throughout the herd. When trimming, make sure to balance the hooves, trim them evenly and flat and not overtrim.
- Maintain comfortable freestalls to prevent laminitis due to excessive standing time.
- Have locomotion scoring take place regularly to indicate and diagnose lameness issues. Watch for cows lying down often or not getting up to eat when feed is available.
- Proper nutrition and adequate fiber are vital components of hoof health and prevention of laminitis. If fiber in the diet is off or cows are not getting adequate feed, both hoof health and milk production can be affected. Additives such as biotin and Zinpro are recommended.
- All cows should go through foot baths three or four days per week. Foot baths should be 8' to 10' long, 3' wide and approximately 5" deep. They should be changed after every 200 cows and set up so that cows enter a clean, dry area after going through the foot bath.
- Work with your veterinarian or nutritionist to design a hoof care plan to fit your operation.