Lameness in dairy cows is distressing to animal and farmer alike and can be the most serious single issue experienced on many farms. With the right mineral supplementation, you can help your cows build strong, healthy hooves and increase their well-being and productive lifespan.
Lameness poses both welfare and economic challenges, with potential economic losses attributed to decreased productivity, reproductive performance, and increased treatment and labour costs. As farmers, addressing lameness is of utmost importance to ensure the longevity and well-being of our herds.
To ensure your herd’s hoof health and minimise instances of lameness, it is crucial to understand the structure, nutrition, and potential challenges associated with hoof care.
The cow’s hoof comprises two essential parts: the outer hoof (horn) and the sole. The outer hoof is made of hard keratin and safeguards the inner part of the hoof. The white line connects the outer hoof and the sole, and can lead to potential issues if it separates from the sole.
Low immunity and impaired rumen function are understood to be key causes in lameness, with ruminal acidosis interfering with the nutrient supply needed for correct keratin formation within the hoof. Better rumen performance and pH stability can be achieved by increasing fibre content in feed or feeding a rumen buffer.
Key vitamins and minerals in lameness prevention are vitamin A, D, E and biotin, and calcium, zinc, copper, and manganese.
With a balanced diet that includes adequate mineral supplementation, your cows can develop robust hooves, reducing the risk of lameness.
The majority of lameness cases in cattle (70%-90%) are associated with hoof lesions. These lesions can be infectious, such as digital dermatitis, foot rot, heel horn erosion, and interdigital dermatitis, or non-infectious, including sole haemorrhages, sole ulcers, white line disease, and thin soles, among others.
Additionally, lameness that originates outside the hoof may be due to trauma, arthritis, muscular ruptures, or neurologic diseases. Recognising the various causes and categories of hoof lesions allows us to implement targeted prevention and treatment strategies early on.
As caring farmers, you prioritise the well-being of our cattle. By feeding a balanced diet that incorporates adequate mineral supplementation and performing regular hoof care, we can effectively manage and reduce lameness incidence.
At Agvance, we understand the unique challenges faced by farmers in ensuring the health of their cattle’s hooves. By focusing on nutrition, prevention, and management, we can help build healthy hooves and minimise lameness in your herd.