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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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The Ontario Dairy Hoof Health Project is a successful applicant for one of several projects mandated by the Agricultural Biosecurity Program (ABP). The project was funded by participating members of the Ontario Hoof Trimmers Guild, The Agricultural Adaptation Council, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, EastGen and Grandview Concrete Grooving.

The Ontario Dairy Hoof Health Project was created to investigate cases of dairy cattle lameness due to claw lesions from structural damage to and/or infections of hoof (claw) tissues.

The project’s short-term goals were to:

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An on-farm assessment program developed by Novus International Inc. and the University of British Columbia (UBC) Animal Welfare Program, led by Drs. Marina von Keyserlingk and Dan Weary, is cracking the code in measuring, tracking and improving animal welfare.

The acronym C.O.W.S. stand for Comfort, Oxidative Balance, Well-Being and Sustainability. Those performing the assessments look at a number of factors including facility design, lying behaviour, stall maintenance and the health of hocks and knees.

The assessments first began in 2010 when Novus and UBC undertook a cow comfort benchmarking project, says Novus C.O.W.S. Project Manager Lindsay Collings.

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While paying off-farm professionals to trim feet on your herd may be cost-effective, relying upon them to treat lame cows is probably not profitable. Lame cows produce less milk, suffer from pain and may become chronic problems unless the issue is dealt with immediately and treated correctly.

Waiting even a couple of days for your foot trimmer to return and treat a lame cow is much more costly than training one of your workers to handle lame cows as part of the work routine.

In fact, many professional hoof trimmers are unprepared to treat lameness. Their responsibility is to trim feet of healthy cows to prevent lameness. Your responsibility is to organize and train a member of your staff to care for lame cows as soon as they are identified.

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Lameness is one of a few words that incessantly irritates the nerves of most Canadian dairy farmers. The highest lameness incidence usually occurs in early lactation. Besides the potential loss of milk, lame cows usually have poor reproduction performance and account for a big share of involuntary culling cases.

Foot problems were reported to contribute 88 percent of all lameness cases. Sole ulcers and white line lesions are the most common claw lesions on North American dairy farms.

Improving floor and bedding conditions and timely trimming is undoubtedly helpful to decrease lameness. However, recent research from Cornell University showed evidence that these claw lesions may have originally developed from the inside out.

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Automotive industry experts tell us about the importance of tire inflation pressure. A properly inflated tire contributes to improved fuel economy, less wear on tires and will reduce accidents.

These features bring economic savings at the pump, the tire shop and the body shop. Correct tire inflation allows for better handling of the car, which improves safety and helps prevents accidents and loss of life.

The advantages of having correct tire pressure are so important that newer vehicles now have a tire pressure monitoring system. For those without one of these new features, an accurate pressure gauge should be carried to periodically check tires on your car or truck.

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The transition from the dry period to lactation is the most stressful part of a dairy cow’s life. Physiological and hormonal changes accelerate during the eighth month of gestation as the milk secretion glands enlarge in the udder and the cow prepares to give birth.

Nutritional requirements increase significantly and play a pivotal role in the cow’s energy status and health both at the time of birth and in the early weeks of lactation when milk production is reaching its peak.

Managing calcium metabolism and reducing the prevalence of hypocalcemia (milk fever) in transition cows continues to challenge even the best dairy farmers and managers.

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