It is not always easy to recognize (mild) cases of lameness.
Nevertheless, it is important to take lameness seriously and treat it immediately.
Lameness has many causes, in fact too many to mention.
I will limit myself here to a few causes, especially before milking begins.
Causes you may not immediately think of!
MANY COWS IN THE WAITING AREA PRIOR TO THE MILKING PARLOR
Some dairy farmers think that a (too) full waiting area makes the milking process go faster.
This thinking is incorrect.
An overcrowded waiting area causes unnecessary stress and unrest for the cows.
It restricts their range of movement and (especially) their visual range.
By nature, a cow always wants to be able to see where she is walking
Cattle pay attention to where they place their front claws while walking.
If you pay close attention, you will see that as they walk, they place the hind claws almost exactly where the front claws were first placed.
This is to prevent irregularities such as stones etc. from entering the claw.
In stressful situations, a cow does not look where she is stepping, so injuries can quickly occur to the soft part of the claw.
Are there some cows standing with their heads up in the waiting area? If so, then there is overcrowding!
From a cow comfort and animal welfare perspective, an unwanted situation.
Cows are most vulnerable just before and during the milking process.
Cows in stressful situations often show other symptoms besides lameness, such as:
- Holding back milk in the milking parlor,
- urinating and fattening up in the milking parlor,
- nervous behavior in the milking parlor,
Cows should always be able to turn around in the waiting area without disturbing their herd mates
This turning is a natural reflex in cows and has a calming effect on the animals.
30% of claw problems in dairy cows are caused by an overcrowded waiting area!
This percentage may increase when using an automatic cow herder, but certainly increases when electric shocks are used improperly on this automatic cow herder.
AUTOMATIC COW HERDER
To motivate cows to walk, some farmers see the automatic cow herder as the ultimate solution.
I give supporters and users of automatic cow herders something to think about with this simple comparison:
Imagine we replace the cows for a group of people.
The group of people are all forced (by the automatic cow herder) to keep moving forward.
However, there is a "narrow passage" at the very front.
A traffic jam occurs because one person does not move forward.
The automatic cow herder forces the group of people behind to keep on moving, with all the consequences!
Isn't it strange that people who are weaker and therefore walk at the back,
are being punished for something that goes wrong at the very front?
And that 2 to sometimes 3 times a day!