Dairy farming

What is the AHDB Healthy Feet Programme?

Lame cows cost money. The Dairy Healthy Feet Programme systematically reduces lameness in herds - for cows that are happier, healthier and more productive. Sounds good? Here’s what you need to know.

There isn’t a single farmer out there who would choose to have lame cows in their herd. Yet many dairy farmers simply accept that lameness comes with the territory. It doesn’t have to be like that. Lameness is common. Too common. But there’s a programme that can help you take positive, proactive, measurable steps to reduce lameness in your herd.

Introducing the Healthy Feet Programme

The AHDB runs a scheme called the Dairy Healthy Feet Programme (so that’s the AHDB DHFP - acronym overload, hey?) It aims to help dairy farmers reduce the number of lame cows in their herd by treating existing cases, identifying the causes and devising a tailored action plan for the long-term control of lameness.
The programme is delivered by a nationwide network of mentors. Each one has a seriously deep understanding of the biology of cow hooves as well as an appreciation of the wider aspects of cow behaviour and the demands of dairy farming. All mentors have a minimum of two years of experience with dairy herds and/or are licensed NACFT hoof trimmers.

Why does hoof health matter?

Not only do lame cows represent a serious welfare concern, they also require more time and effort to manage. They can also tarnish the reputation of your farm. Even staff morale can suffer.

Yet when you flip the coin, you get some compelling benefits. Less lameness in your herd means healthier (and happier) cows, more profitable milk production and better job satisfaction for you and your team of staff.

Optimise health, optimise profits.

How does it work?

The Healthy Feet Programme follows a simple structure, designed to help you tackle the specific causes of lameness on your farm and move towards the long-term control of lameness. Firstly a mobility mentor will visit your farm to discuss the causes of lameness, examine your herd and carry out a full risk assessment.

That may sound intrusive, but your mentor is not there to tell you what to do. Their job is to help you identify the underlying causes of lameness on your farm and recommend strategies to tackle it. You will receive a tailored action plan and advice on how to implement it. From there your action plan will be reviewed and updated every six months depending on your progress.

You pay for the mentor visits. But the theory is that you make your money back (and more) through enhanced productivity in your herd and less time spent managing lame cows.

What next?

The AHDB have produced a short brochure on the Happy Feet Programme that you can browse. Or you can see if there’s a mobility mentor near you by following this link.

For further information contact your veterinary surgeon, SQP or Zoetis UK Ltd, Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Walton on the Hill, Tadworth, Surrey, KT20 7NS. Customer Support 0845 3008034. http://www.zoetis.co.uk/. Always seek the advice of your medicines provider. Use medicines responsibly(http://www.noah.co.uk/responsible).
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