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After experiencing significant cases of lameness in 2019/20 we enlisted the help of our Healthy Hoof provider at Cambridge Vets to diagnose what was causing lameness and recommend changes to make.

  1. We analysed historical lameness cases, which were predominantly white line damage.
  2. We then set up a Gopro to record cow and operator behaviour during milking.
  3. Observations showed that cows were having to turn around on the yard to face in the right direction to go onto the platform.
  4. Changes included splitting the yard with the backing gate so that cows enter on both sides.  The backing gate was then used to take the space behind cows that were facing in the right direction to enter the platform.  This gave the rest of the cows time to turn around and follow the backing gate before the second gate took the space up behind them.
  5. We installed a mirror for the backing gate operator to see into the yard to operate the backing gate without having to climb the steps or enter the yard.
  6. A full audit of race quality was carried out and priority areas identified for upgrades.  This allowed us to incorporate race maintenance and work into our annual financial budget.
  7. The lameness board was updated to provide consistent coding of diagnosis and treatment aligned with Healthy Hoof to provide better data for our vet’s consultations.
  8. Use of Protrack was invaluable for enabling accurate and early drafting for cows identified as lame in the paddock or on the races.
  9. Ongoing training for the team on identification and treatment.

As a result of this, lameness was reduced from 34% to 13% of the herd. We are targeting <12%.

You can watch a summary of our journey in our weekly Wednesday catch-up 29th September 2021: Owl Farm journey to reduce lameness