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HERD HEALTH

Find information about mastitis, transition cows, vaccination protocols, working with your veterinarian, hoof care and hoof trimming.

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Lameness is an animal welfare issue and a major economic loss on many dairy farms. Common causes of lameness include sole hemorrhages, white line hemorrhages and sole ulcers, which can be categorized as claw horn lesions.

These claw horn lesions can develop around calving and early lactation, and become noticeable around peak or mid-lactation.

The current hypothesis is that claw horn lesions are a result of a bruise within the claw horn capsule. Physiological changes around calving and early lactation, such as weakening of connective tissue of the hoof suspensory apparatus and the decrease in thickness of the digital cushion, increase the risk of bruising, especially in poor housing conditions.

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There are few if any diseases in dairy cattle that impact the performance, profitability and welfare of animals more than lameness. Indeed, it justifies a conscious effort on the part of every dairy to invest whatever time or effort is needed to optimize foot health.

Effects on performance
Lame cows are less competitive at the feedbunk, when choosing a stall or when involved in aggressive interactions with other cows. Add to this studies that suggest pain alone is sufficient to decrease feed intake, and it’s not hard to see why milk yield is reduced by lameness.

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I have been in the hoof care business for more than 16 years and have seen my herds expand in size over and over again.

The industry has integrated from mid-size herds in tiestalls and cows spending much of their time on pasture to larger freestall operations with cows spending most or all of their time walking on concrete.

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The term “hoof rot” is a phrase that might be used on your farm to describe a sore foot. Before I explain the disorder itself, I would like to share the definition I found on Google.

I could not find the term “hoof rot,” as such, applied to cattle, but it is used to describe infection of the hoof in sheep, goats and horses. Interestingly, the term to describe the same type of disease in cattle is “foot rot” or “foul-in-the-foot.”

To be clear on this subject, I prefer to use “foot rot” in this article, referring to the scientific name, interdigital necrobacillosis. However, we must be careful not to use this name to describe all lameness or different clinical pictures.

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Leptospirosis is a disease that can impact the bottom line of every dairy producer, mainly through lost reproductive efficiency. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic bacterial disease that affects mammals worldwide. The definition of a zoonosis is a disease that can be transmitted from animals to people.

Leptospires are gram-negative bacteria that can survive for considerable periods of time in moist soil or standing water. Warm, moist conditions are ideal for the spread of leptospirosis.

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When talking about employer/employee relations, the topic of interaction frequently comes up.

These discussions are usually centered on people; they don’t normally consider the most valuable employees on the farm – the cows. What is communicated to them by way of your actions or those of your human employees?

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