November 21, 2019

Avoid Dairy Farm’s Worst Nightmare: Laminitis

Pain from bovine laminitis causes a cow's posture to change, the cow tends to arch it's back, hoof blocking may provide relief.

There’s nothing more important to a dairy farmer than to keep milk production booming, which requires them to pay attention to anything that could possibly impede uptime. Laminitis, or founder, is one of the biggest obstacles farmers can face with their animals. This condition restricts movement in a cow’s foot or leg due to inflammation from injury or infection. Eventually, laminitis can lead to disabilities, time-consuming treatment and declines in dairy production. Keeping cows healthy and business profitable involves avoiding founder and maintaining a regular hoof-trimming regimen. 

Signs and Symptoms of Laminitis

A dairy farmer can tell if a cow is experiencing a bout of laminitis by a few tell-tale signs:

  • Arching Posture: Similar to the way a human’s shoulders react to stepping on a sharp rock, a cow’s posture alters when it experiences pain from laminitis. Typically, the animal tends to arch its back more than normal, which means it may be time to look into extra treatment.
  • Diet Changes or Weight Loss: Sometimes, the discomfort of laminitis causes a cow to eat less. Diet directly affects milk production, and a farmer should address a weight loss issue immediately in order to keep the cow healthy and profitable.
  • Limping: Just as humans limp when they have a leg or foot injury, animals do the same. If a cow is limping, a dairy farmer needs to get it checked for laminitis right away to prevent the condition from worsening.

If a cow is showing any of these signs, it could mean that laminitis is taking its toll, and farmers should take the necessary steps in treating the condition. Many cases of laminitis are linked to improper or infrequent hoof care. In other words, avoiding founder starts and ends with a consistent trimming schedule.

Treatment and Prevention

Laminitis can lead to heavy consequences if left untreated. The cow’s symptoms can intensify in the form of abscesses, which can lead to culling of the animal and loss in revenue. While laminitis has a variety of causes, one of the main ways to avoid and treat it is through regular hoof maintenance.

Every cow should have its claws trimmed twice a year at least, like a human check-up at the doctor’s office. When cows’ claws are regularly inspected and repaired, trimmers can catch troublesome issues early and keep cows healthy, comfortable and productive.

If laminitis sneaks its way into a dairy farm, there are tactics to get cows back on track. Blocking is a helpful treatment option to use when cows are experiencing pain from founder. Since a cow is a cloven-toe animal, it has two claws. Hoof care professionals can adhere a block on a healthy claw to elevate and restrict the inflamed claw, giving it space and time to heal. Blocking helps make cows more comfortable and allows them to recover quickly with minimal impact on milk production.

Rubber blocks provide good traction and cushion the hooves to improve claw stability. These blocks are ideal for lameness cases caused by laminitis, because they keep a limping cow from slipping, running into things, or other accidents that stem from discomfort that throws the animal off balance.

With an animal’s health as a top priority, dairy farmers can help ensure the productivity of the herd. Keep laminitis out, by letting proper hoof care in.