Lameness: The last few weeks have been hard on cows’ feet. Roadways are wet, which softens the hoof and leaves it more prone to injury from stones and other objects. I see a lot of cows walking gingerly at the moment. Hoof parers are busy, as they’re in high demand. The grazing season coming to a close on most farms means that cows won’t be walking as much, which will help to prevent new cases.
However, housing cows is not the panacea for lameness. Digital dermatitis or mortellaro spreads in cubicle sheds. This is a bacterial infection that spreads in cow dung, so hygiene in sheds is a key point of defence. The amount of mortellaro on Irish farms is probably over estimated. A previous Teagasc study found that it was widely misdiagnosed. Either way, prevention of all lameness should be a top priority. Keeping the hoof as clean and dry as possible is the best way to control lameness or foul when housed.