Welcome to The Healthy Feet Website
The website for dairy producers, trimmers, vets and consultants working to improve the feet of dairy cows.
COVID-19 control – best practice for professional trimmers
Balancing the absolute need to minimise human contact with safeguarding the welfare of lame cows is not simple. The Mobility Steering Group have provided some guidance to professionals:
Follow this link for COVID-19 guidance relevant to professional foot trimmers applicable until April 13th: Mobility Steering Group COVID-19 final
The principles will apply to many other professionals and technicians working on farms.
For those farms managing lameness themselves, here is an excellent video on 1st aid approaches.
- Safely restrain the cow and lift the foot
- Clean with dilute disinfectant (e.g. 1% FAM30, 2% hypochlorite)
- Feel for heat, test for pain by pressing the heels of each claw and/or using hoof testers, look for obvious lesions, look for swelling, sniff for odour. Look for the main lesions causing lameness. Pus may need releasing from a white line, but don’t go digging in black marks – detect the site of pain first. Once confirmed, think about applying the block early and coming back to the lesion while the glue sets.
- Glue a block on the sound claw. Note – don’t do this if you have never been trained. It may be possible to apply blocks with someone guiding you on a smartphone if you need help in difficult situation.
- Give the cow some pain relief. There are several licensed products available from your vet.
There are 4 key control points we’ll major on within this website:
- Early detection, prompt effective treatment.
2. Foot disinfection, cleaner feet (reducing infection pressure).
3. Cow comfort, lying times, cow flow and walkways (forces on feet).
4. Hoof shape and horn quality.
What’s new (in the UK):
- RAU have launched the 1st (in UK) level 4 qualification in cattle foot trimming
- The Healthy Feet Programme is undergoing a major overhaul, introducing a HFPlite version, including Farmer Action Groups and broadening of the criteria for eligible mentors
- Quick links pages to up-to-date AHDB information resources
- Find a mobility mentor in UK
- Links to other useful websites
Latest science news:
The Vet Journal (Dec 2019) – 20% lower odds of sole ulcer in lactation following dry-off trims (click link).
Journal of dairy science – Better recovery from lameness among dairy cows housed in hospital pens.
60% of cows on a straw yard vs. 27% of control cows had improved in lameness score in 4 weeks (click link).
Main topics of interest:
Click here to find a foot trimmer in the NACFT. A fully licensed trimmer attends a check day every 2 years.
Click here to find a trimmer in the CHCSB. A full member holds a recognised qualification and undergoes an unannounced audit every 18 months which assesses all aspects of safety and professionalism.
Most trimmers in the UK will advocate using Five Step Method. This has most evidence supporting efficacy. For more details click here. Everyone treating feet on farms should be qualified.
Managing foot health is a priority for any dairy producer. To manage properly we need standardised metrics and KPIs. The mobility score is one important metric, allowing specific and measurable targets for improvement or sustained performance. Some people will score annually, others quarterly or even more frequently. When the whole herd is screened every 1-2 weeks for new lame cows then cures rates can be improved. Click here for more details.
Mobility scoring can also be used to screen herds to find cows likely to benefit from treatment.
Foot bathing is a method of cleaning and disinfecting feet. The bacteria causing digital dermatitis are easily washed off and killed by many disinfectants (see this review). Foot bathing needs to be done as frequently as is necessary, with the decision to go every milking or 2x per week depending on cost, ease and how challenging the underfoot conditions are.
One design of foot bath proving popular is the Wisconsin bath.
- Long – increases washing with more steps
- Narrow at feet – minimises volume to reduce cost
- High kerbs – minimises “kick-out” of solution and shortens 1st and last step for more plunges
- Solid sides – using Temple Grandin principles for greater cow flow and reduce “kick-out” of solution
- Same level in and out – so cows step in and out confident about where levels are
Dimensions can be found in the full paper. Additional useful design features such as the “easy fill, easy clean” concept are found on the foot bathing pages of this website.
Cow comfort and lying times
Cow flow and walkways
There are many factors which influence cow flow within buildings and through the parlour. Working with the cow behaviours can improve the function of a building or parlour, minimising stress on the cow and people.
On this website there are pages on cow tracks and DairyNz have an excellent guide (click here). New Zealand vet, Neil Chesterton, has made some excellent observations on cow flow. For cow building design, take a look at the pages on this website but also the AHDB site.
The development of this site was originally supported by the Tubney Charitable Trust, with sections funded by Defra. This updated website has been brought to you in collaboration with AHDB Dairy and the AHDB dairy research partnership.
True to the original website we aim to pack it full of technical ideas. However, whenever possible we want to point to the research evidence and highlight the opinion-based information.
If you discover a new piece of research, something we’ve missed, something we’ve got wrong or you’re just excited about the website then please let us know.
The website has been built from several important and useful research studies in the UK. We are grateful to all the funders and participating farmers for their input.