Dairy Global

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Monitoring cow activity to support lameness management

Lameness, which has an impact on milk production, welfare and herd profitability, is a serious problem in many dairy herds worldwide. One of the major causes for feet problems is a lack of hours the cows lie down. A new monitoring system provides insight, enabling specific adjustments in the cows environment to improve lying time and subsequently hoof health.

Lameness is being monitored poorly on many farms in comparison with mastitis and fertility. "That is a problem," says Dr Jan Lievaart of the Dutch Hoof Health Centre. "Many dairy cows do not lie down enough to meet their natural needs."

The measured data from the ankle band system does not only provide insight in the lying behaviour of cows, but also offers the farmer the possibility to make targeted adjustments to the environment and management, to improve hoof health.

Research by Nigel Cook of the University of Wisconsin showed a clear link between the number of hours that cows stand and the number of lame animals. If the measurements of the monitoring system show insufficient lying time, further research is needed to find the underlying causes. The stall dimensions partly determines the amount of time a cow spends lying down daily. Incorrect stall dimensions, size or bedding often play a role. Further factors include the floor being uneven or hard and whether it is fitted with a rubber mat. If it takes a cow a long time to lie down, either the stall size or bedding it not right. Standard sizes do not apply. But in some cases it is not the environment but the management, such as waiting times before milking. Some farms have a mismatch between the number of cows being milked and the size of the milking parlour. Creating a customised solution for each company makes more sense.

Full article available on page 26/27 Dairy Global, Vol 1 nr 1

Fabian Brockotter

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