Update on Hoof Knife Disinfection

Work is being carried out at the University of Liverpool, in conjunction with AHDB Dairy, to establish an effective protocol for disinfecting hoof knives during foot-trimming.

Past research identified digital dermatitis (DD) treponeme DNA on hoof knives after trimming feet affected by DD, suggesting that foot-trimming should be a control point for preventing transmission of the treponemes that cause DD.

Current studies in the laboratory have shown that DD-associated treponemes can survive on hoof knives for at least two hours, which means that they could be passed between cows if knives are not cleaned. Disinfection was most effective in the laboratory using 1:100 FAM30®, 2% Virkon® or 2% sodium hypochlorite. This work informed the development of the hygiene protocol presented here, which is designed for use during foot-trimming to prevent treponemes from being passed between feet. The protocol and further details are also available from AHDB Dairy at https://ahdb.org.uk/reducing-spread-of-DD.

The hygiene protocol is being trialled during foot-trimming to ensure it is effective under farm conditions. Farm trials so far have included 86 cows’ feet with a range of DD lesion M-types and non-healing claw horn lesions (also known to be infected with DD treponemes). In 24/86 cases, it was possible to culture treponemes from hoof-knives after foot-trimming, showing that live treponemes are present. This further suggests it may be possible to pass treponemes between cows if knives are not cleaned. Fortunately, all three disinfectants have so far proved effective during farm trials at removing all treponemes with a short contact time of only 20 seconds. Sampling is continuing to ensure testing of the protocol is robust.

Adoption of these disinfection techniques (https://ahdb.org.uk/reducing-spread-of-DD) should help to mitigate risk of transmitting DD during foot-trimming especially when used in conjunction with other DD management strategies such as regular foot-bathing and good housing hygiene which are also detailed in a resource from AHDB Dairy (https://ahdb.org.uk/knowledge-library/digital-dermatitis-the-three-pronged-approach).


The RNLI was honoured to receive the money raised by the UK Cattle Lameness Conference – thank you so much.

The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea, we are separate from the Coast Guard and the independent from the Government, we rely on charitable donations to be able to continue the good work we do – Saving Lives at Sea. 

The Vision of the RNLI is to end the preventable loss of life and sea and we do this through our volunteers and staff, who all strive for excellence and to be courageous, selfless and dependable. Through their hard work, and your donations, we have saved thousands of lives, last year we aided 41,619 people and saved 329 lives. 

Sadly, 320,000 people, around the world, drown every year, but through our Prevention work we raising awareness, creating safer places and encouraging safer behaviour, through education. 

The RNLI provides 24-hour search and rescue services around the UK and Ireland up to 100 nautical miles offshore, and rely on people such as NACFT member, Francis Burns, to come out and help. WE have been busier this year as we also have 4 specially trained flood rescue teams that go out around the UK. 

The NACFT donation will go a long way to help fund vital equipment to keep the staff and volunteers doing the best they can to Saving Lives at Sea. 

Ceva hosts Cattle Ruminations on Lameness… a Virtual Roadshow series

NACFT Sponsor Ceva Animal Health has launched, Cattle Ruminations on Lameness… a Virtual Roadshow to enable registered mobility scorers and qualified foot trimmers to catch up on CPD during lockdown.

The free roadshow series, which is also open to veterinary surgeons, will take place from Tuesday 5th May until Wednesday 13th May.  The roadshows are being run in collaboration with a world-class speaker in cattle lameness, Dr. Nick J. Bell MA VetMB PhD PG cert Vet. Ed. FHEA DipECAWBM (AWSEL) MRCVS, independent consultant to the dairy industry.

The live, online roadshows will enable delegates to submit questions to the speaker and attendees at each live event will receive a certificate for one hour of CPD. Some of the sessions will be recorded so they can be watched again.

The full schedule is as follows:

  • 7.00pm on Tuesday 5th May – Lameness in Heifers – why heifer management is critical for lameness control (event code Lameness 1) Veterinary surgeons, registered mobility scorers and qualified foot trimmers
  • 7.00pm on Monday 11th May – Life After Formalin – future protocols for digital dermatitis control (event code Lameness 2) Veterinary surgeons, registered mobility scorers and qualified foot trimmers
  • 3.00pm on Wednesday 13th May – Lameness detection.  What’s the New Normal? – discussing new technologies and the future of lameness detection (event code Lameness 3) Veterinary surgeons, registered mobility scorers and qualified foot trimmers

To register for any of the roadshows email the event team direct on: virtualroadshow-group@ceva.com  Please state your name, organisation, email address and the event code.  Details of how to join the roadshow will be emailed a few days before each event.  A CPD certificate will be emailed to the email address submitted once each roadshow has finished.

Covid-19 Best Practice Guidelines

NACFT has been working with the Cattle Lameness Steering Group, based on guidance from RCVS, BCVA, BVA and the UK Government guidelines to put together the Covid-19 Best Practice Guidelines Covid-19 Best – please follow them closely to keep yourself and others safe.

Wopa UK Celebrating 40 Years

From what was started as a “side line “is now a major supplier of hoof care equipment to the UK. 

Humble beginings from a chance meeting at a show in Holland between Ed Malt and Jan Wopereis, which not only became a life long friendship but also a trading partnership which has now progressed to the next generation. 

1980 saw Jan, and his expert hoof trimmer Hank Stamp, come to the UK to do two demonstrations at Peter Padfield’s farm in Essex, and Ed’s own farm in Norfolk. These first demonstrations proved to be very successful not only for Ed to start the business of selling Wopa crushes, but to enlighten the farmers and their staff of the importance of hoof care. This saw the start the welfare of cattle hooves. 

Ed could identify the need for good hoof care through his own dairy herd, and so he became qualified in the Dutch method. His foresight saw him convince the Ministry of Agriculture (not an easy task!) that hoof trimming and hoof welfare should have official training courses, and so the Agricultural Training Board setup courses around the country with Ed as the first qualified trainer to do these. 

The next step saw the advance of hoof trimming contractors. Some of them actually went to Utrecht College for their training and qualification, others gained theirs here in the UK. The Five Step method came about, and that saw a standard for the industry to follow. With the growing numbers of contractors Ed felt that they needed to have an organisation to provide a uniform service and help the future development of cattle hoof welfare, and so with this suggestion to Tony Richardson and Harry Relph (both professional hoof trimmers) the NACFT was born. 

The Wopa crush has come a long way since 1980 and the SA18 farmers model that came over. This progressed to todays SA26. Then to the SA35 which was originally advertised as the contractors model!, to the recent SA49, and the contractors models of today now the SA51, and the latest SA61 which can be on wheels or tracks. From hand winching to electric motors and hydraulics, to remote controls. From on the ground to those with lift systems. From static to mobile on wheels or tracks. The future continues to progress through research and development. 

Ed and Jan have left not only us, but contractors and farmers alike, an amazing legacy of which we are justly proud. 

Do we talk enough about welfare?

Recently I was invited to speak about lameness and welfare at the “International Hoof Health and Welfare Conference” in Spain. Twenty-six countries were present, from Canada to Japan, and it made me realise how the UK are world leading in this area. Indeed, we have been for some time and must be proud of it. Where to start?

The 5 Freedoms were developed from a 1965 UK Government report into the welfare of farm animals. Their wording has truly stood the test of time and, whilst they don’t encompass every aspect of welfare, they are a good start and still underpin our animal welfare laws today. Assurance schemes such as Red Tractor, and further some of the aligned contracts, continue to build on them.

They are all measurable and some are strikingly relevant to lameness. First, “Freedom from pain, injury or disease, by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment”; we have repeatedly discussed these exact words in recent years in reference to lameness. Second, “Freedom from discomfort, by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area”; with cow comfort and lying times being key in the sole ulcer disease process, this is clearly directly applicable to lameness. Third, “Freedom from fear and distress, by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering”. Without getting too technical, pain is inextricably linked with emotions, and persisting pain leads rapidly to mental suffering; having good mobility helps satisfy this freedom, too.

Agriculture is under ever-increasing scrutiny in the public eye. Misinformation and bad press are rife, often presenting obstacles and inconveniences. Yet, focusses on animal welfare also provide opportunities for us as animal health care professionals. If welfare requirements continue to improve, whether through legislation or public pressure, opportunities for well-trained and up-to-date professionals will keep opening. So be proud of the industry we work in, the healthy food that we help produce and the welfare of animals that we can ensure. And consider how we may guide the narrative on animal welfare, illustrating the great work that is being done.

Survey to help research on Trimming Cattle

Dear Members

As an article mentioned in the recent edition of Trimmer magazine, Sara Pedersen is conducting two studies on foot trimming. The first is a survey open to all on approaches to assessing toe length. She would like the views of as many members as possible so please follow this link to complete the survey: https://nottingham.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/foottrimming

The second study is an observational study on foot trimming with the aim of answering some of the fundamental questions about the benefits of foot trimming, variations in trimming technique and optimal timing of trimming. She will also be looking at the link between mobility score and lesions to help better identify when the best time to intervene is.

Sara has randomly selected 30 qualified foot trimmers from across Great Britain to work with. Participation is voluntary but is encouraged as we would like to see NACFT trimmers feature heavily in this research – it will be the first of its kind to be conducted.

In terms of what the study entails, a researcher would attend one of your normal trim visits (subject to farmer consent) and gather a range of data during and after trimming to include aspects of trim technique, lesion data, post-trimming external measurements, cow and farm data. Cows to be trimmed/treated would be mobility scored prior to trimming and then on a second occasion approximately 7-14 days later to assess for any alteration in locomotion.

Sara is hoping to gather data from approximately 1,000-1,500 animals which will create a large enough data set to answer some fundamental questions about the benefits of trimming and variation on trimming method and timing of trimming.

This is a great opportunity to help guide the future direction of research in this area and contribute to the largest observational study that has ever been conducted on foot trimming. If you have been selected at random, Sara will be in touch directly to discuss the study further.

Eyes Down. Some tips for early detection

I’ve been teaching farmers, vets and trimmers to mobility score cows for many years. When I first started doing it, I was worried I’d be “teaching Grandma to suck eggs”. However, the feedback has almost always been appreciative, so I no longer worry! People tell me time and again the training has helped them look at cows in a different way. The key word is “look”. Imagine you are a lion trying to pick out your prey – after all, that is the situation. Cows are prey animals, and they have adapted to mask pain. Man is a hunter, and has developed skills at reading the body language of animals. Mobility scoring is about re-honing those visual skills, and focusing on lameness rather than, say, bulling signs or how pretty the cow is.

The obvious lame cows, those that are slower than their herd mates, perhaps at the back of the herd, last coming into the parlour or holding a foot up, might be considered as the lion’s next dinner. They have lost their ability to mask the lameness. You don’t need to mobility score to find these cows. They are “dead meat”, or more correctly, Mobility Score 3 cows.

It is the next level down, the Score 2 cows, which mobility scoring is valuable for. They will walk at the same speed as their herd mates and are probably well hidden in the herd. These cows will benefit from treatment as soon as possible. Research (and common sense) tells us that if treatment is delayed they will have a lower chance of recovery and, if they should recover, a higher chance of becoming lame again. Often farmers treat (or put out for the trimmer) just the Score 3 cows. These may be the worst ones but by missing Score 2 cows they never get on top of their lameness problem. It is like treating mastitis only once the quarter has gone rock-solid and ruined rather than at an earlier stage when there is still hope of a cure. Not clever.

So how do farmers spot Score 2 cows? Here are some tips:

  1. Look. You really do need to focus on just mobility scoring. You won’t find them unless you look, and if you are doing other jobs too, such as milking, feeding or scraping muck, you are not properly looking.
  2. Be trained. Although a Score 2 lame cow will try and mask her lameness, there are “tells” which will give her away. You need to know and understand what these are. You also need to understand the AHDB Dairy four-point Mobility Score scale.
  3. Pay attention to walking speed, stride length, back position, head movement, tracking, walking rhythm and position of the fetlocks. That is seven things to look for, which is not easy when a group of cows are tumbling past you at speed.
  4. Watch the feet. Through experience of teaching mobility scoring, I reckon that a common reason for people missing lame cows (which I think are obvious) is because they are not looking at the feet. A back arch can be a valuable “tell”, but many lame cows will not show this. Watching foot placement is more valuable.
  5. Think where, when and who. Who is the best person to do the Mobility Scoring? It must be someone who is trained – and who has good eyesight! Think, when is the best time? Often it is at milking time as cows are coming out of the parlour. Think, where is the best place to stand? The cows should be easily identifiable, and need to be walking a few un-interrupted paces on level ground with good grip.

Mobility scoring helps farmers to alter the threshold at which they react to new lameness cases. It makes detection more sensitive, and allows farms to get ahead of the curve with their treatments. I encourage every dairy farmer to mobility score their herd at least once a fortnight. Some don’t see the point of it, or think they already spot their lame cows soon enough. This is a real shame because my own research and that of others shows that this simply isn’t true. These farmers are denying themselves the possibility of less lameness, more efficient use of their time (and their trimmer) and better profitability, as well as a happier herd.

Afterword: There is now a register of trained mobility scorers (ROMS) – see www.ROMS.org.uk. Becoming a registered scorer is a good way to demonstrate you have been trained in the AHDB Dairy Mobility Score system and that you update your skills regularly.