Early intervention and lameness prevention were among topics discussed at the National Association of Cattle Foot Trimmers Association’s conference held at the University of Nottingham. Angela Calvert reports.
Speaking at his last engagement in the UK before taking up his post as head of the vet school at Massey University in New Zealand, Jon Huxley, professor of cattle health and production at the University of Nottingham’s school of veterinary medicine and science, said the introduction and development of mobility scoring, started in 2002, had had more impact on attitudes towards lameness than anything else in recent times.
He said: “Mobility scoring has highlighted the fact lameness levels run at about 30 per cent. Unfortunately, has not improved very much since it was introduced but the industry will not continue to get away with this. Aligned milk contracts, Red Tractor and demand from consumers will make sure of that.
“We have to get away from investing too much time in cull cows and focus on younger cows. Early intervention methods are starting to get traction. The message is about earlier treatment and knowing which animals to target.
“This presents a massive opportunity for foot trimmers, but there will be challenges as well. You will have to find ways to work within vet-led teams, without working for vets, at a time when there is huge consolidation going on in veterinary practices with many becoming corporate or collaborative businesses.”
To take advantage of the opportunity and demand for foot trimmers, Prof Huxley said the organisation had to present a creditable and professional front, find and work with friends within the industry and regulate itself by providing a mechanism for dealing with complaints and problems.