Farmer meetings focus on lameness

Cattle lameness specialist Roger Blowey
Cattle lameness specialist Roger Blowey
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Veterinarian Roger Blowey will be highlighting the link between body condition score and the cows’ predisposition to lameness during the talks he will be addressing in Northern Ireland on Tuesday February 21st.

The events will be co-hosted by Provita, Moore Concrete and Barclay’s Bank.

“This association can be best picked up with freshly calved heifers coming into the milking group for the first time,” said Blowey.

“If they are overly thin, then the digital cushion on which they walk will be likewise affected. And, as a consequence, these animals will be more prone to lameness-related problems. The same principle holds with mature cows.”

Blowey will also be discussing the impact of digital dermatitis on dairy cow performance.

“It is crucially important to prevent the disease from taking hold with heifers. These animals, if infected, will only serve to spread the disease to the milking group post calving. In such cases farmers can only hope to contain the problem, not eradicate it.

“The same principle holds, where dry cows are concerned. In both circumstances, regular foot bathing is extremely important. Both pre-calved heifers and dry cows must also have access to dry, clean accommodation at all times.”

Blowey likens digital dermatitis to mastitis of the hoof.

“And the same principles of cleanliness must be adopted when it comes to handling hooves, as one would normally adhere to when handling teats in-parlour.

“For example, we know that the organisms causing digital dermatitis can live on knives. But the same also holds for gloves.

“The latest research has confirmed that the organisms causing digital dermatitis can live on the surface of rubber gloves for up to three days.

“It is crucially important, therefore, for anyone handling hooves that may be infected to wash their hands between moving from one animal to the next.”

Blowey will be speaking at three events on February 21st. The day starts off with a talk for vets and support staff at VSSCO in Lisburn, commencing at 10.15am. This will be followed by an on-farm talk in Coleraine, on the farm of Andrew and William McCollum, starting at 1.00pm. The day ends with an event in the Glenavon Hotel, Cookstown, with the talk starting at 7.30pm. However technical display stations on footbath types, designs, semi-automated systems, DD App and the Hoofsure HELP service, etc will be available to view from 6.30pm.

“We’re delighted to have added the visit to the McCollum farm for February 21st. The 300 cow herd is one of best in the UK in terms of PLI. They have implemented excellent lameness control measures such as our semi-automated footbathing system, Moore concrete Surefoot slats not to mention their excellent feeding, nutritional and breeding strategies, all of which will be discussed and viewed on the day. There will be five 20 minute stops. Full details are available on the news section of our website,” confirmed Provita’s Tommy Armstrong.

“This is a unique event and demand for places is likely to be very strong. Space is limited on the farm talk so pre-booking via our website or by phone is essential. In the event of oversubscription priority will be given to existing Provita customers.”

Those wishing to attend any of the lameness events can register by visiting the Provita website: www.provita.co.uk/events or ringing: (028) 82252352