It is not always easy to recognize (mild) cases of lameness. Nevertheless, it is important to take lameness seriously and to treat it immediately.
Lameness has many causes, in fact too many to mention. I limit myself here to a few causes before the start of milking. Causes you probably don't immediately think of!
TOO MANY COWS IN THE WAITING ROOM AT THE MILK SHED
Many farmers think that a (too) full waiting area makes the milking process go smoothly. This reasoning is incorrect. An overcrowded waiting area causes unnecessary stress and unrest for the cows. They are then limited in their freedom of movement and (especially) in their field of vision.
By nature, a cow always wants to be able to see where she is walking.
Cattle watch where they put their front legs while walking. If you pay close attention, you will see that while walking they place the hind legs almost exactly where the front legs were before. This is to prevent irregularities such as stones etc. from penetrating the claw. In stressful situations, a cow does not look where she is walking, so injuries can quickly occur to the soft part of the claw.
As soon as there are cows with their heads up in your waiting area, there is overcrowding.
“Is this bad?” I often get the question.
This is not correct from the point of view of cow comfort and animal welfare.
Cows are most vulnerable during the milking process, the way there should be “trouble-free”.
If the cows are under stress, other symptoms may occur in addition to lameness, such as:
- Not milking in the parlor,
- fattening in the parlor,
- nervous animals,
Cows must be able to turn in the holding area without disturbing their peers.
This turning is a natural reflex in dairy cows and has a calming effect on the cows.
30% of claw problems in dairy cows are caused by an overcrowded waiting area.
This percentage can increase when using an automatic cow herder, but certainly when using electric shocks on the automatic cow herder.
AUTOMATIC COW HERDER
To motivate cows to walk, some farmers see the automatic cow herder as the ultimate solution.
I hereby give proponents and users of automatic cow herders food for thought with a simple comparison:
Suppose we replace the cows with a group of people.
The group of people are all forced (by the automatic cow herder) to walk forward.
However, there is a “narrow road” at the front. There is a traffic jam because a person does not continue.
The automatic cow herder forces the group of people behind to walk, with all the consequences that entails.
Isn't it strange that people who are weaker and therefore walk behind are punished for something that goes wrong at the very front?
And this 2 to sometimes 3 times a day!