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Dairy Farming Manual

Volume 5

Husbandry Unit 11.4

page 199

Extension Materials
Why is hoof care important? (1-11)

1 Overgrown or damaged hooves:
- cause pain and low milk production
- may cause disease.

How can you care for hooves? (12-20)
2 By using a skilled hoof trimmer with the right tools.
What diseases come from poor hoof care? (23-43)

3 Ulcers and bacteria can cause fever and even death.

How can you prevent hoof problems?(44-54)

4 By choosing a cow with good hooves and looking after her well.


  page 201

5 Because it affects milk production and the health of your cow.
You cut the nails on your hands and feet regularly.
6 If your nails are too long, you feel uncomfortable and cannot work properly.
7 Without care, the hooves of your cow become too big.  They are painful when the cow is standing or walking.  This reduces milk yield.
8 If you do not care for overgrown hooves, your cow may get serious diseases in hooves and legs.
She can become very sick and even die.


  page 202

A normal hoof
9 A layer of horn covers the hoof and this grows all the time.

Under the horn is soft tissue with many blood vessels.

The horn protects the soft tissue.
In a normal hoof, the horn is not too thick.

An overgrown hoof
10 If your cow usually walks on soft ground or you tie up your cow in the barn, the horn layer becomes too thick.
Note the angle of the leg.
Normal leg position
11 This cow has normal hooves and legs.
Note the position of the hindlegs when the cow is standing relaxed.
Abnormal leg position
12 This cow has abnormal hooves (or legs).
Note the position of the hindlegs when the cow is standing relaxed.
Compare the positions of the hindlegs in illustrations 11 and 12.


  page 203

13 If you walk on your heels, you do not feel comfortable.
This is also true for a cow with overgrown hooves.
Overgrown hooves are painful when the cow stands or walks.
14 To avoid pain the cow lies down more than usual.
So she easily gets wounds specially on the hock and knee.
15 The cow easily stumbles and falls.
She often damages her hooves and legs.

  page 204

16 By asking a skilled hoof trimmer to examine and trim the hooves of your cows at least twice a year.
17 Trim hooves in a special box.
Then the skilled hoof trimmer can work quickly so your cow does not become nervous and hurt herself or the hoof trimmer.
18 If you do not have hoof trimming box, fix the leg carefully.
19 Do not use this device.
It can make your cow lame.


  page 205

 20 Not everyone can trim hooves.

Use a person who is experienced in hoof trimming!
Wrong hoof trimming can damage the hoof more than no trimming.

21 An experienced hoof trimmer examines the hoof carefully for pain and disease.
He uses various instruments.
22 He cuts the edge of the hoof with tongs.
23 He cleans and trims the sole of the hoof with a knife.


  page 206

Hammer and chisel

24 He cuts the horn with a hammer and chisel.

25 He advises you to call the vet if necessary.

26 Well trimmed hooves improve the health of your cows and healthy cows have a better milk yield.

  page 207

27 Ulcers on the sole.An ulcer is a hole in the horn of the sole. You can see the soft tissue under the horn.
28 The hoof easily becomes infected and your cow becomes sick.
29 A cow with untrimmed hooves will often get an ulcer on the sole of the outer claw of the hind leg.

  page 208

 30 The causes of sole ulcers are:
- overgrown hooves
- poor hoof trimming
- poor feeding (lack of calcium and phosphorus in the food).
31 If the ulcer is not too deep, the hoof trimmer can clean and trim the hoof.
32 If the ulcer is deep and you can see the soft tissue, call the vet and let him treat the wound with antibiotics.

  page 209

33 Nails or sharp stones from roads can easily go through the sole.
34 If the hole is deep, it reaches the soft tissue.
35 An abscess (pus) may form inside the hoof
36 and if you do not treat your cow, abscesses may form in the rest of the body.She gets fever, stops eating and may die.


  page 210

37 A trained hoof trimmer can open the sole horn and let the pus out.
38 The vet can treat your cow with antibiotic injections.
39 Protect the wound by dressing.
Remove the dressing when the wound heals.
40 To prevent disease, do not let your cows walk on roads with sharp stones, nails, and other things that may go through the hoof sole.


  page 211

41 One type of bacteria can infect the soft tissue between the claws and an abscess develop.  This is called Cattle Foot Rot.
42 This bacteria likes wet surroundings.  So you often find the disease in the wet season.
43 However, you may find the disease all through the year, especially when your cows walk around in mud and wet manure.
44 If your cow has a small hole in the skin the bacteria can enter and an abscess form.  It hurts her when she walks.


  page 212

 45 The disease may spread to the hoof joint.
The joint swells.
Your cow may get a severe fever and stop eating.
46 Call the vet as soon as you see signs of foot rot.
He removes dead tissue and treats the animal with antibiotic injection.
47 If you see signs of foot rot:
- make a foot bath with 3% formalin or 5% copper sulphate
- walk your cows daily through the foot bath.
This prevents the disease.

  page 213

48 You can prevent hoof problems by paying attention to the following:
Some cows are born with better hooves than others.
Narrow hooves resist injuries better than low, flat hooves
49 and dark horn is stronger than fair horn.
50 Choose your cattle carefully when buying or selecting them for breeding.
51 Poor feeding may lead to bone diseases, which means problems with legs and hooves.The right amounts of the minerals Calcium and Phosphorus, and Vitamin D, are important for bones.


  page 214

52 If you always tie your cows, they will have more hoof problems than cows which walk freely.
Give your cows exercise.This avoids damage from standing and improves the natural wear of the horn.
53 Most housing systems can cause problems for your cows:
- in barns with grates, slotted floors or concrete floors, choose designs which do not damage hooves and legs.
54 Always keep your barn clean!


  page 215

Boxes and tyings
55 In the illustrations, you can see the normal movement of a cow when she stands up.
If the box is too short or too narrow or if the tying does not allow free movement the cow cannot move freely.
Then she easily stumbles or has to stand up like a horse, stretching the forelegs first
56 This means that the cow easily injures hooves, legs and the teats of the udder.
Hoof trimming
57 Trim overgrown hooves!
58 Call the hoof trimmer to examine an treat your cow at least twice a year!


  page 216

What do you know about hoof care?
    Importance of hoof care
    Poor hoof care:
    1 lowers milk production 
    2 causes pain 
    3 may cause disease and death 
    Signs of poor hoof care
    1 Too thick horn layer 
    2 Abnormal leg position 
    3 Frequent laying down, stumbling and falling 
    Caring for hooves
     A skilled hoof trimmer should:
    1 trim hooves at least twice a year 
    2 use a hoof trimming box or correct tying 
    3 Use the correct tools to cut, clean and trim hooves 
    Disease from poor hoof care
    1 Ulcers on the sole 
    2 Abscess from things through the sole 
    3 Foot Rot (Foul-in-the-Foot) between the claws caused by bacteria 
    Preventing hoof problems
    Pay attention to:
    1 inheritance 
    2 feeding 
    3 exercise 
    4 housing 
    5 boxes and tyings 
    6 hoof trimming 

page 217

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