Major initiatives to use research results to improve hoof health in Canadian dairy farms are underway across Canada.
What’s our hoof health status?
The Alberta Hoof Health project, which ended in 2012, measured the hoof lesions in 578 herds in 3 provinces (BC, Alberta and Ontario) from trim records for 80,533 individual cows along with dairy production data. The Hoof Supervisor ® hoof lesion recording system was used by provincial groups of trimmers to collect hoof data.
A preliminary picture of the situation – 30-60% of cows have at least one hoof lesion:
The province of New Brunswick is collecting hoof health data until the end of 2015 in 210 dairy herds and the province of Quebec will be collecting data from 24 hoof trimmers over a two-year period.
Current research: A national network approach
A national project supported under the Dairy Research Cluster (2104-2018) is focusing on improving hoof health in Canadian dairy herds using genetics and management tools. They are standardizing data collection across the country to provide a routine flow of information to the Canadian Dairy Herd Improvement databank. From there, an analysis of the genetic traits that are associated to hoof health will be done and an index developed to allow farmers to select animals on the basis of hoof health, among other indicators. A system will be developed to provide reports to farmers for management decision-making.
Knowledge and resources for farmers on hoof health
There is a wealth of information available for Canadian dairy farmers on hoof health issues including Digital Dermatitis (DD), footbaths, claw trimming and much more on the Blog www.dairyhoofhealth.info developed by Dr. Steve Mason of Alberta.
For instance, the blog has the latest information on ZINPRO’s new Digital Dermatitis application and an interview with Roger Blowey on cattle lameness and recent thinking on the causes and control of DD.