Upper Farm Sees a 35% Reduction in Lameness after Introducing Deosan HH+
Intakes are up as cows are more comfortable on their feet and they have fewer hoof problems.
Significant Improvement in Hoof Health
The installation of three new robots in October 2020 led to a review of foot health management at Upper Farm near Shrewsbury, UK. And as a result of introducing the award-winning Deosan hoof treatment product, HH+, the farm has seen a 35% reduction in lameness caused by digital dermatitis in just a few months.
Upper Farm has been in the Downes family since 1903 and, like many farms, has seen lots of changes over the years. Parlour infrastructure alone has seen a shift from a new 10:10 Herringbone in 2000 to a 20:40 Swingover in 2007 and the most recent installation: three new Fullwood Merlin Robots.
Commenting on the transition, Richard Downes explains, “Foot health is an absolute priority with any dairy herd, but possibly more so when cows are milked in a robot when you rely on the individual animals to visit the parlour unprompted. Add to that the necessity to protect the robot machine. Previously we had been using Formalin, but that can rot the infrastructure, so we needed to look to new products that were not corrosive. Ultimately we needed a very effective product that was more robot and people-friendly.”
Richard spoke to John Sherratt at Sherratt Farm Supplies, in Wem, who suggested Deosan foot treatment, HH+, having heard it had just won the AgriScot Innovation Award and after receiving positive feedback from other farmer customers.
“We started using the product in December 2020 on John’s recommendation. He explained that the product plays a key role in the prevention of lameness. All milking cows go through the footbath three times a week. Dry cows and heifers are run through weekly. We have two options for exit from the robot, front or side, so we can dictate the exit on the days we want to treat the cows. Initially, we had a footbath that was only 1.80 metres in length but we weren’t getting the coverage required. By increasing that to 3.5 metres, we now get at least 3 steps per visit. The height of the foot bath is 25cm, which ensures the cow steps in at the front, maximising the steps in the bath.
“HH+ has been extremely effective, and we saw huge improvements in foot health very quickly. It promotes well-conditioned hardened hoof tissue, making cows’ hoofs more resilient to environmental conditions. The rate of improvement has levelled off now, but the condition and health of the feet are so much better, and mobility has noticeably improved.”
The impact of improved hoof health has been evident in performance from the 170 cow Holstein Friesian herd. “Obviously, there are many factors that affect performance, but foot health is at the foundation of a productive herd,” adds Richard.
“Just 6 months ago, we were averaging 19l/cow/day; we are now at 31l/cow/day. Intakes are up as cows are more comfortable on their feet, and visits to the robot have increased from 3.2 times per day to 3.5. We’re also noticing much fewer problems at our monthly foot trimming visits and can now focus our time and efforts on preventative management rather than treatments, which clearly impacts our vet and med costs.
“As we expand the herd, hopefully to around 220, recent improvements give us confidence that we can increase productivity with a healthy herd and utilise the robots to their full potential,” he concludes.
John Hamer, fully qualified foot trimmer and Diploma holder. Foot trimmer at Upper Farm for 25 Years.
“It’s been incredible to see the improvement in the condition of the herd’s foot health since using the HH+ product. It was almost immediate, and within 4 months we have now seen a 35% decrease in the cases of digital dermatitis/lameness.
Protecting the heel area of a cow’s foot is integral to preventing lameness. The area needs to be kept clean, to keep the feet in a good healthy condition.
Use of this product has significantly improved the health of the feet, particularly the heels, and reduced the cases of slurry heel and dermatitis. As a result, the cows are more mobile, which has led to increased milk production and improved health and welfare.”