Don't blame a lame cow

The Coffs Coast Advocate

DAIRY cattle on the Coffs Coast are suffering sore feet in all the rain, says Department of Primary Industries regional vet Paul Free-man.

“With this wet weather, it is important to go easy on cattle and not push them to walk too far and too quickly over rough ground,” Mr Freeman said.

“Lameness can result after wet weather when cattle's feet become soft and sensitive.

“Tracks can become harsh if stones are exposed due to erosion.”

He said lameness could cost $500 a cow in lost production and treatment bills, so the answer was to get in early and reduce the risk of this happening.

Mr Freeman said while time equalled money in dairying, moving cows too quickly could distress them, meaning they gave less milk, as well as having the potential to lame them.

“The solution lies in critically watching cow movement and removing restrictions and distractions to cow flow - making sure they don't stop but maintain a steady, calm pace to and from the milking shed.”

He said there were many things that could be done easily and for little cost, which would save time for dairy farmers in the long run.

These include:

  • Make sure laneways are at least 5m wide, with a well-compacted base.
  • Put in two gates in each paddock to reduce laneway wear and tear.
  • Support heavy gates with wheels.
  • Put in hutching points so that open gates don't blow shut.
  • Site water troughs in paddocks away from gates and laneways.
  • Avoid right angle bends in laneways and try to fence them as broad curves.
  • Remove trees that shade the laneway and cause bogging.
  • Get cows to enter the holding yard at the rear to preserve their social order for milking.
  • Allow cows to move along at their own pace to minimise lameness.

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