WITH lameness known to be in the top three most expensive issues to treat in cattle, farmers looking to support hoof health are being encouraged to consider trace element and vitamin supplementation.
According to Tom Butler, group technical manager at Brinicombe, appropriate micronutrition, teamed with a suitable trimming strategy, can support the hoof horn and help prevent lameness and its costly consequences.
“On top of the direct cost of treatment, lame cows will have a lower dry matter intake and their milk yield will subsequently be reduced, adding to the expense,” he says.
“The problem most commonly occurs when the integrity of the hoof horn deteriorates, allowing disease and bacteria to enter the foot, causing pain and decreased locomotion.”
However, trace element and vitamin supplementation can play an important part in supporting hoof integrity and helping reduce the risk of hoof diseases, such as digital dermatitis and sole ulcers.
Tom cites biotin and zinc as particularly crucial: “Biotin is essential for keratinisation, which is a key process in the healthy composition of the hoof horn, but this vitamin is often lacking in cattle diets.
“Zinc is also incredibly important for hoof health, and prevalence of zinc deficiency is high in some herds, although to varying degrees of severity,” says Mr Butler.
“Severe nutritional deficiencies in both biotin and zinc can lead to a fragile hoof, more susceptible to cracks and bacterial infections, thus increasing the risk of lameness.”
He recommends routinely incorporating trace element and vitamin supplementation into lameness management strategies.
“Administering trace element and vitamin boluses high in biotin and zinc, such as EnduraBol Biotin, is a good way to ensure a consistent and long-lasting supply of micronutrients to help support hoof health as well as general cow health and performance.
“Based on scientific research, EnduraBol Biotin has been meticulously designed with hoof health in mind. Two boluses deliver approximately 20mg of biotin per day and a sustained release of zinc for up to 120 days,” says Mr Butler.
“During the summer, lameness can be increasingly noticeable as cattle are more likely to be walking further to the parlour, often on sharp, stony tracks, which can cause wear and tear on hooves.
“Lameness can occur at any time in a cow’s life. So, it’s important to stay on top of the risk factors, such as nutritional imbalances, all year round to help maintain hoof health,” concludes Mr Butler.