While most sheds are finished milking for the season, the winter quiet is the perfect time to get it set for more efficient cow handling.
Animal health is of vital importance and that means looking after the hooves they walk on. Lameness prevalence is generally much greater in Mainland herds than those in the North so it is important to have good facilities staff or vets can treat cows easily and safely.
The cow needs to be well restrained with a Headbail, belly girths to stop her going down, and a secure way of winching and holding the hooves. Hoof treatment can then be conducted quickly and safely without fear of the cow kicking or hurting herself or the operator.
Getting to lamecows early is important and early intervention can prevent it becoming a much bigger issue, saving a lot of money in not only treatment costs but in other associated costs of having an unwell cow.
A 2014 DairyNZ study estimated this cost but also found that regardless of herd size, nearly three-quarters of the cows actually lame went unnoticed, and on average each cow lost weight for a further month after treatment began. The study showed how vital it is lameness treatment is, and that effective and early intervention is critical. They found on average each lame cow dropped production by 225kg of Milk Solids and had a 64% drop in in-calf rates, and was 14% more likely to be culled. At the time they estimated the costs and lost income amounted to $832 per lame cow.
Wilco Klein Ovink, once a farmer and now inventor and manufacturer of the Wrangler, New Zealand’s lame cow handler, says they are seen as essential shed equipment. “Good equipment encourages staff to look at hooves. Lameness can be reduced by examining a hoof at the first sign of lameness rather than leaving her in the hope she will come right”.
“All new sheds should include hoof facilities” explained Wilco. “Many shed designers are now putting Wrangler’s into every yard layout which is great because they can have a great setup and be in place before the concrete is poured. They are not only useful for lameness but for any situation you need to examine or treat a cow, be it calving, caesarian, retagging, liver biopsies etc.”
Enjoy the break from milking but get in the shed and sort out how lamecows are to be treated. Then get in early as Wrangler demand is high over winter with everyone wanting them in before calving. Talk to your rural supply store or ring the Wrangler and you’ll be set for the new season.