Cow comfort also has a major impact on and is largely associated with lameness in dairy cattle. Although it is not ideal to remodel or revamp your facilities, it may be necessary to improve cow comfort and decrease lameness in your herd. The following are a few tips to help improve cow comfort in your operation. You can also take the cow comfort self-assessment test at http://z.umn.edu/comfortquiz.
- Provide enough stall space for cows to lie down and ruminate for 10 to 14 hours each day. Specific dimensions are subject to the size of each cow and simple adjustments to the neck rail and brisket board can result in positive performance. Sore feet can occur if cows are subject to long periods of standing.
- Soft bedding is key to cow comfort. If you're using sand bedding, be sure it is free of stones and other objects that can penetrate the sole of the hoof.
- Adding grooves to cement floors, or utilizing rubber flooring or mats in the feed alley might help to improve cow comfort.
Develop a complete plan
As lameness carries a heavy financial impact, it is easy to see that a plan must be in place to combat the problem. Nutrition and cow comfort are outlined in this article; however, it is important to recognize that lameness stems from multiple causes. Continuing to evaluate and determine sources of lameness and foot problems in your herd will allow you to develop a complete abatement plan, reduce incidences and reach or maintain a goal of less than 15% clinically lame cows in your herd.