Hoof care and managing pain in lame cattle - Elders Rural Services

Hoof care and managing pain in lame cattle

As the weather continues to cool into winter and change of seasons brings wetter conditions hoof care and managing hoof pain in lame cattle once again becomes a focus.

Lameness in dairy herds has a significant impact on production and reproductive performance, as well as causing affected animals considerable pain and discomfort. The cost of lameness can be significantly overcome through preventative and effective management strategies to help cows return to health and full productivity as quickly as possible.

Maintaining good balance in the hoof is a useful preventative measure to averting hoof problems, so visual inspections and quick actions are a must. Make regular hoof inspections and trimming a critical part of your regular routines. 90 per cent of lameness comes from damage within the hoof, so close, regular attention is key to picking up any issues before they become major problems.

Preparation is key – gather a basic tool kit for the hoof care focus season and for general use throughout the warmer months. Having a tool kit on hand when needed is invaluable in managing lameness quickly and effectively. Include items such as: hoof rasp, hoof knives, hoof trimmer and hoof pick, along with hoof blocks and adhesive.

Knowledge of corrective hoof care techniques will allow you to get a start on repairing hooves as soon as possible. In cases where preventative management hasn’t been successful, we move towards early intervention solutions. That’s when your preparation in assembling a hoof care tool kit will pay off most.

Hoof blocks are ideal for cows that have not been lame for very long and will effectively manage pain by reducing the weight bearing load. In addition to managing pain after trimming, we effectively increase the healing rate by also using hoof blocks.

Suitable hoof blocks are either wooden or rubber depending on the conditions and preference.

  • Vettec’s Bovi Bond adhesive in conjunction with wooden or rubber blocks allow you to manage quick, precise applications with no wastage. Strong and quick setting – Bovi Bond sets in 30 seconds and is weight bearing in two to three minutes.
  • Rubber hoof blocks give great traction and comfort on wet and slippery surfaces and can provide maximum impact suspension for hard surfaces.
  • Wooden hoof blocks – look for hardwood rather than pine for longevity and wooden blocks are ideal for cows on softer surfaces.

Shoof’s Walkease is a new generation claw prosthetic made from Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA). EVA is a common material used in support of running shoe soles. Used in combination with fast-drying cyanoacrylate adhesive, it is fast and effective to apply to the hoof of the cow. Walkease blocks will naturally compress and thin after 10 to 14 days of wear. Walkease is especially easy to use as blocks can be used either way up, so suit both left and right claws as required.

No matter which blocking solution you prefer, the benefits to managing pain are evident immediately upon application. Maintaining balanced hooves regularly will keep your cows pain-free with consistently high productivity through the winter and spring.

Shoof’s range of hoof care products are available from your local Elders branch.

Article written by Shoof for Seasons magazine.