My Grazing Week: Autumn 5 - Dealing with lame cows


Andrew is back with the ever popular My Grazing Week and this week he is dealing with lame cows.

My Grazing Week: Autumn 5 - Dealing with lame cows

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  • 3 years ago

Andrew is back with the ever popular My Grazing Week and this week he is dealing with lame cows.

Robotic system: 1 DeLaval VMS™ box unit voluntary milking on grass

Recap Autumn 4:

MS/cow/day: 2.06kg

Grass GR: 70Kg

Robotic milking and mixed farming

(31st August - 6th September)

Milk KPI’s

Fat

4.49%

Protein

3.86%

kg/cow/day

24.5kg

MS/cow/day

2.04kg/cow

SCC (‘000)

100

TBC (‘000)

4

Concentrates

Rotation length

3.9kg

27 days

Life on the farm

The harvest for this year was finished up and all of the straw baled up and stored in the sheds this week.

Following the completion of the harvest, heavy rain followed last weekend with nearly 40mm falling in a couple of days, which is still relatively very little in comparison to other parts of the country. This rain has luckily for us not had a huge impact on grazing conditions, and the cows remained outdoors grazing as per usual.

Due to the cows crossing a river to get to and from the robot, we pulled the cows back out of that field and brought them to our side of the river to avoid stranded cows!

Grass growth has remained high at around 70 kg Dm/ha/day.

We had the hoof man out to attend to any of the lame cows, and cows that had been previously lame in the last few weeks. As spring calving cows are entering late lactation, combined with the wet weather, a few lame cows in most herds across the country are starting to appear as is normal.

Dealing with lame cows

Lame cows tend to be the problem cows on voluntary milking systems. These are usually the cows that will have to be fetched from one or more of the paddocks in the day, depending on severity of lameness.

The cow’s hooves are an important asset to her while operating on these milking systems. On some farms, the cows will do more walking in the day compared to a conventional system. So it is very important to look after the hooves and keep lameness to a minimum. A preventative is always better than a cure when it comes to lameness.

While the cows on a voluntary milking system do more travelling, they are not travelling in a herd, and are not been driven by the farmer behind them. They have the ability to keep their head down and pick their step very carefully if they so wish.

With this been said, if the road surface is not sufficient for her, then she will have no other option but to walk on underfoot objects that may cause damage to her hooves or interdigital space (causing scald). It is best practice to avoid sharp objects (small sharp stones) on laneway surfaces.

The damage to the hoof usually occurs when the cow walks from a stone surface onto concrete. The stones are pressed into the claw as she puts pressure onto the hard surface. Wood chip stone traps placed for about 5-10 meters before the cows enter onto concrete will help to prevent stone damage done to the hoof.




Woodchip stone trap

When a cow does appear lame due to uncontrollable circumstances, it is a good idea not to have this cow walking long distances in the day, in order to allow for the best possible recovery of the hoof. Where possible, keep lame cows as close to the farm yard as possible, in a local paddock. What we sometimes do is just send the cow to either A, B, or C only in the day, depending on which of these areas is closest to the robot at the time of grazing.

When a cow is first showing signs of lameness, it is a good idea to investigate her as soon as possible, and treat with an appropriate antibiotic if there is, or signs of, an infection present if you feel it is necessary.

Do not delay with attending to lame cows, and do not wait until there is a large percentage of lame cows in the herd before contacting your hoof repair person.

Summary

Lame cows do pose an issue with voluntary milking system as the cows are more reluctant to travel too, and from the robot.

Keep an eye out for cows with a poor locomotion score and attend to them straight away before the cow becomes a severely lame cow.

Keep lame cows in a local paddock, close to the robot to avoid the cow having to walk excessively long distances.

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