Lameness is a consistent problem in dairy herds, but it is quickly becoming the hot topic amongst processors and that could have a real affect on how lameness is managed on farm. We could talk all day about the facts, challenges and solutions, but we decided it would be best to look at it from an on farm perspective!
Graham and Tom Windsor have kindly let us do a profile on the changes they have made at The Lodge over a couple of years, all of which have had a substantial effect on lameness within their herd.
Graham and Tom milk 320 Holsteins on an all year round calving system with summer grazing. They are currently on a TSDG aligned contract and very focussed on cow welfare.
In 2010, Graham and Tom made the decision to build a new unit for the milking herd which was better for both the cows and the staff.
Working with their then vet Owen Atkinson, now of Dairy Veterinary Consultancy fame, they focused on a number of factors including stocking density, cow comfort and cow flow.
In 2019, Graham and Tom still felt that the mobility of the herd needed to improve. For them, stocking density was still a key factor to resolve and was obviously having an impact on lying times. As a solution to this, a cubicle extension and youngstock building was erected to improve herd comfort and reduce the stocking pressure. However, this was not the only factor they focused on. They also decided to make a proactive effort to ensure that cows feet were checked more frequently and that lame cows received attention as soon as possible.
Tom gives us some more insight:
“We’ve seen some vast improvements in lameness since 2019. The main reason I think we’ve seen this is down to the improved stocking density and picking cows up sooner rather than later – generally being more proactive. We definitely see a lame cow differently to what we did two to three years ago.”
Their trimmer Simeon Lloyd now routinely checks the feet of all cows at 60-80 days in milk as well as at drying off, trimming if/when required. Graham and Tom will treat any lame cows in between his visits. This means that every cow is seen twice a year as a minimum, and the team are picking up on average one cow a day.
Regular footbathing also features to control Digital Dermatitis and a digi blitz protocol is used to control any flare ups (please ask your vet for further information). This proactive approach in conjunction with regular mobility scoring means that lameness in the herd has dropped. The latest mobility scoring report for The Lodge showed that 99% of their herd was sound(score 0 or 1) – a fantastic result from a consistent approach!
“We’re also noticing the difference in foot trimmer visits now – we put a cow in and she’s gone in two minutes. There are still areas we want to work on, including the heifers as we aren’t seeing them as regularly, but overall we’re very pleased with where we are. The biggest impact we’ve seen from this approach is staff morale. Cow’s are healthier so they’re bulling sooner and getting in calf quicker, and that gives us such a boost.”
Thank you very much to Tom and Graham for letting us share their progress. We hope you agree that it’s pretty impressive and just shows that a proactive approach with great communication in the team can go a long way to improving mobility in the herd. If you have any questions please get in touch.
Tom recently joined us at the Dairy Tech online event to discuss his progress with lameness, answering many questions from the group. If you’d like to watch this back, it’s now available on the Dairy Tech website (12th February session).