Investing in dairy cow hoof care through the winter

Whether or not a cost can be considered an expense or an investment often comes down to not just the return, but also the length of time an expense can offer a pay-back.

While hoof care may seem like a cost, Brad Ingram, sales manager for Vettec Animal Health, argues that a cow serves the dairy for many years — any “cost” that results in better production and health for that animal is really an investment for the long term.

Proper trimming and balancing of hooves, plus prevention of infection, is an investment of time and effort that does require some planning, Ingram says. The bottom line is, however, that any lameness negatively impacts milk production, and that means poor hoof health will eat at profitability on the dairy.

Blocking hooves to balance a cow and help her heal from disease or injury can be accomplished several ways, and a good hoof trimmer will carry a variety of block types, depending on the situation or time it will take for the cow to heal. Winter creates an added challenge for both traction, potentially, and cold temps.

When thinking about hoof health and blocking through the winter months, Ingram adds farmers should make sure to keep blocking glue at room temperature. If it does freeze, thaw it at room temperature (don’t heat it). When working with feet or prior to gluing blocks, keep a heat gun handy to dry the hoof and keep your hands moving.

As for the barn, the drier and cleaner the better when it comes to avoiding hoof infections, and while foot baths might still be a good idea, they may freeze. Ingram says there are several good antiseptic foot sprays on the market to get through the very cold weather Canada has.

Listen below for more from Ingram as recorded at the 2019 World Dairy Expo:

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