Reducing Lameness in Dairy Housing
There is a growing awareness of the importance of controlling lameness in dairy herds. As in the case of most production diseases there are likely multiple factors in the causes.
Dairy cows on pasture and dairy cows housed for long periods will have a wide variety of lameness and lesions associated with lameness due to the obvious differences in the housing systems.
Indoor concrete surfaces of milking barns can be abrasive and wet, particularly in the case where an effort has been made to keep the surface rough to minimize cows slipping. Excessive hoof wear can be a result of this type of environment.
A major cause of lameness in yards is caused by small stones and sand being brought into the yard from pasture and roadways.
If a farm yard has a lot of right angled turns the cows tend to pivot and twist more often which causes extra pressure on the outside claw. This a another contributor to lameness.
Excessive use of electrified backing gates cause’s cows to compact at the back of the yard, to lift their heads and move from side to side in an effort to push forward. Hoof placement potential injury can occur.
Cows will also swerve away from the milker when moving into the milking area causing hoof injury.
Strategically placed rubber matting on the farm and in the barn will greatly help to offset the negative impact of hard concrete surfaces. Cows are more confident when walking on rubber and their gait length increases to that of walking on grass.
Raised profile rubber offers the grip of grooved concrete without the harmful effects to the claw while reducing lameness. Matting also offers cushioned flooring to old and lame cows with poor walking, which need comfort the most and recover faster on rubber.
There is no doubt that the correct placement and correct rubber product in the collecting yard, on the milking platform, at the feed line and around the crush area will greatly reduce the amount of lameness, speed up milking time, reduce vet bills and increase production.