LLM Feet First - Cattle Foot Trimming

A long term dream of mine to launch a Mobility Management service at LLM finally became reality with the arrival on 1st October of our very own professional cattle hoof trimmer – Chris Smith; he was followed in quick time a few days later by his state of the art ANKA pro hoof trimming crush.

Chris Smith joins the Lancashire practice’s Chris Husbands as our second professional cattle hoof trimmer. This completes the lameness control “triad” by working alongside our vets and VetTechs, allowing LLM to offer a complete vet-led mobility management service: LLM Feet First. Working directly with you to control lameness in your herd, our team offers:

  • Register of Mobility Scorers (RoMS) accredited mobility scoring
  • Preventative and therapeutic hoof trimming
  • Lameness risk assessment –“Hoof Proof Check”
  • Lameness control advice
  • Ongoing mobility monitoring

Lameness is high on the agenda of processors, supermarkets and Red Tractor Assurance. Those on aligned contracts will be well aware of this and from October 2019, the Red Tractor standards on lameness have tightened with the addition of a requirement to mobility score.

Regulation is not the only reason to focus on lameness control. The financial impact of lameness is an equally strong driver to engage in its control. With the average case of lameness costing £300; or if you prefer, £2 per day lame, combined with a national prevalence of around 30% (mobility score 2 and 3), lameness will be costing a typical 200 head dairy herd producing 8,000 litres around 2.8 pence per litre, which is a staggering amount.

Prompt & Effective Treatment of Lame Cows

Prompt and effective treatment of lame cows is proven to be effective in reducing herd lameness prevalence and reducing the impact of lameness. Making modifications to things like cubicle beds, how fresh cows and heifers are managed, and so on will help improve lameness in the long run. However, if you can do nothing else but promptly identify cows that “may benefit from treatment” and treat those cows quickly, you are guaranteed a positive response. Identifying these mobility score two and three cows means performing regular mobility scoring – you may be shocked to hear that for gold standard approach this needs to be a herd mobility score every two weeks. All mobility score two and three cows then need to have their feet lifted within a few days of being identified. In reality, because we are all busy, mobility scoring often happens only on an ad hoc basis and certainly less frequently than the gold standard. The feet will typically only get lifted when there is time to do so, rather than this job being top priority. In this scenario, there is a real risk that as a result of delay in treatment, mobility score two cows deteriorate; irreversible changes in the foot occur that can consign that animal, often a freshly calved heifer, to a lifetime of lameness. Overall levels of lameness in the herd remain unchanged.

This is what happens inside the foot if lameness is not identified and treated promptly

Credit: Reuben Newsome, PhD, MRCVS

Remember the cost of lameness?

Remember the cost of lameness? If you reduce your lameness prevalence from 30% to 10% that’s the best part of two pence per litre so there’s a bit to play with. The thing that most of you don’t have a lot of is time and this is where LLM Feet First can really help. Mobility scoring by one of our trained RoMS accredited VetTechs followed within a matter of days by a trimming session where Chris will inspect all four feet, and treat as necessary. Cow flow through the ANKA crush is superb and work rate is high because all four feet are lifted simultaneously allowing Chris to work at maximum efficiency. It also allows him to spot problems early that may not be obvious if only the “lame” leg was lifted – therapeutic trims take time to get the best results, so the aim is to reduce these.

What About Prevention of Lameness?

Identifying and treating lame cows is one part of the lameness equation however lameness prevention is just as important and this centres around two key
areas:

  • Preventative hoof trimming
  • Identifying and managing lameness risk factors – “Hoof Proof Check”

Preventative hoof trimming is where every cow in the herd receives routine foot inspections and a trim if necessary. Typically, this is done around dry off and again at 80-100 days in milk. There is scant evidence as to what is best practice, but most would advise a dry off inspection as a bare minimum. The key to this is that feet are inspected and only trimmed if necessary. The timings of this routine hoof care are such that they target the period of highest risk for the development of claw horn lesions which is around the time of calving.

Routine hoof inspection is where a professional hoof trimmer really comes into their own. It is the cow’s annual foot service as opposed to fixing what is broken. A correctly trimmed and balanced hoof maintains excellent mobility, is cost effective and a valuable investment to preserve good foot health.
It increases cow longevity and profitability and helps to maintain lower herd lameness prevalence. Chris working with the ANKA crush allows efficient throughput of these cows lifting all four feet at once so that they are readily inspected.

In line with most of what we do at LLM, we charge by the hour for all LLM Feet First services. So, if a cow goes through the crush and only requires a light trim or no trim, you only pay for what is done. This is fairer and certainly promotes good foot health. Herds with low lameness prevalence will tend to require routine hoof inspections with minimal trimming and very little therapeutic trimming so they benefit from the hourly rate over a per cow or per foot rate.

Hoof Proof is the LLM Feet First lameness risk assessment service, delivered by the VetTechs, which reviews all the risk factors which contribute to lameness. From lying times to foot bathing practices, and everything in between. The Hoof Proof Check report generated after the visit allows you and your vet to produce an action plan – achievable steps to address and mitigate lameness risk factors on your farm. This report provides a basis for ongoing mobility management, with regular follow-up reviews backed by data from the Feet First Team including lesion reports and mob scores.

The LLM Feet First Team are really excited and looking forward to working with you to tackle lameness. If you would like to know more or discuss a particular aspect of lameness with a member of the team please get in touch on the numbers here:

Emma Harding – Feet First Administrator
01948 665593

Chris Smith – Feet First Cattle Hoof Trimmer
07714 770328

Chris Husbands – Feet First Cattle Hoof Trimmer (Lancashire)
07805 446729

Tom Wright (Vet lead) – 07590 183804

Natalie Parker (VetTech lead) – 07841 775697

Feet First