September 2019 saw the kick-off of the Agri-Tech funded lameness study on
Cornish dairy farms.
As the project commenced, there were 7 farms signed up to the study. The
farms varied from extensive grass-based systems with 600+ cows, to robotic
milking farms with 80 cows.
The 7 farms signed up to the project had their first farm visit, and swabbing,
mobility scoring, and thermal imaging of their cattle’s feet was underway.
Environmental swabs were taken on each farm to build up a picture of the
bacterial populations dominating the cow facing surfaces and water troughs.
Bacteria cultured varied from Streptococcus, to Pseudomonas, to E.Coli.
Pruex identified areas of disease pressure on each farm and helped the
farmers individually to implement strategies to reduce the risk of disease
challenging bacteria dominating the environment.
Water was treated with WaterPlus to remove the biofilm in pipes and troughs
and bedding stabilised to add soil bacteria into the environment and help to
reduce moisture and dry up bedding.
Regular farm visits enable further swabbing’s to be taken to continually
analyse the bacteria populations and develop accurate treatment protocols.
Once satisfied that clean water was provided to the farm – foaming
The best area for foaming was identified on each farm – flat and in high traffic
areas i.e. parlour exit, passageway or feed fence.
Installation of a foaming machine on each farm was then undertaken by the
Data is collected from each farm via monthly visits.
Mobility scoring (the AHDB method) of all cows provides an incidence of
lameness on each farm, scoring cows either a 0/1, 2 or 3. Score 2 and 3 cows
are considered lame, and their identification number is recorded. Mobility score results are benchmarked against the other farms in the study and used
to monitor lameness on each farm from month to month.
A thermal image camera is used to scan the back heels of the cows to detect
inflammation hot spots, indicative of bacterial infections in the heel such as
digital dermatitis. Thermal images are stored after each visit and will be
analysed as the images build up throughout the project.
Foot trimming data is also collected to provide more information.
Pruex would like to thank Agri-Tech Conrwall for their funding and support to
develop and innovate Pruex, and resilient farming businesses across Cornwall.