Nowadays that pandemic is of actuality some epidemiology lessons can be extracted to understand lameness prevention. To address lameness prevention in an academic way we must follow the basis of preventative medicine stablished by Wirchow based on 3 steps:
There are 3 level of prevention:
1 Avoid disease appearance
2 Minimize clinical expression
3 Treat clinical cases to minimize severity
Starts since the decision of planning a dairy business is made. The sooner lameness prevention is included in the decision-making program, the more efficient prevention measures can be taken. The first prevention schema must take into account environmental factors, management factors and genetic factors.
Lameness is important enough to have into account since a farm project starts. First of all, if there is a chance of choosing location, cooler places are better than warmer ones and drier climates make things easier. Worst option is always hot and wet. Next moment is when designing facilities. In general, facilities that guarantee a proper comfort are also favourable to minimize lameness expression. In particular when designing a farm, attention must be placed on providing a specific hoof trimming area together with a performant hoof trimming crush that can guarantee a proper cow flow, as well as an efficient foot bath design. Once the farm is running, general management decisions have strong influence on the disease onset.
To minimize the clinical expression of lameness routine trimming is the proper tool. By performing an adequate foot trimming program, any defect in the foot can be detected and addressed before it creates a clinical problem. This is the reason it is so important periodically trimming cows feet. A good protocol can be trimming at dry off, this way, secondary prevention is performed before the critical season of early lactation. Complementary trimming program is advised to perform during lactation.
Early detection and treatment of clinical cases is key to determine the consequences of the episode. To get this achieved, maintained locomotion scoring of the animals is a must. Once a cow has been detected of suffering an abnormal locomotion, foot trimming must be performed in real time to catch the lesion before worsening. Research is proving that an important number of cows that get lame once, get chronic and suffer lameness events during all productive life. The sooner the first episode is caught, the lower are the chances of suffering a new episode of lameness.
Proven the high cost and welfare issues of lameness measures have to be undertaken at all three levels by proper specialized consulting at the time of barns and trimming area design, by proper experts training and follow up of in-farm trimmers and by providing the right equipment to the farm. Any farm with more than 1000 cows must have a high performance hydraulic crush to performs steps 2 and 3. Smaller farms can consider hiring hoof trimming service or a combination of hired maintenance trimming for level 2 and and in farm performing level 3.