The snow and ice this past week caused some to lose footing. Wet, muddy, slippery or frozen surfaces can certainly cause falls and injury in livestock. In recent years, more attention has been given to animal welfare. This certainly does not imply that previously farmers supported animal cruelty or ill treated livestock on the farm. Plain and simple, more is known about animal psychology and corrals and shoots can have design improvements for improved animal management and movement. The results are a better quality meat product with less bruising of muscle tissue, healthier livestock and finally higher feed efficiency for improved weight gain and/or milk production. An upcoming program (see upcoming events below) on Feb. 9 will be of interest for those concerned with either livestock or autism as Temple Grandin will be at that event.
Part of animal welfare and well-being includes hoof care and management. Purdue publication ID-321 entitled "Hoof Anatomy, Care and Management in Livestock" is a newly released publication. The publication discusses in depth the anatomy of cattle, goat, pig, sheep and horse hooves. Hooves grow at different rates depending on various factors including species and the season. For example hooves tend to grow more in the summer when pasture is readily available than in winter. Though many livestock don't require maintenance, periodic inspection of hooves may prove beneficial for breeding stock that is kept long term relative to feeders. Horse hooves are a single entity unlike sheep, goats, cattle and pigs which have two digits. A rule of thumb, equine hooves new growth results to about 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch per month while bovine hooves grow about 1/5 to 1/4 of an inch of new growth per month. Any amount of hoof overgrowth can result in animal problems that begin with discomfort. The bones of the hoof are designed to sit squarely inside the hoof, at an approximate fifty-degree angle to the ground. Whenever hooves become too long, weight-bearing surfaces of the hoof may be changed and/or unbalanced.
Ultimately, the bones inside the foot may begin to splay. It is critical that the weight bearing surfaces of the hoof should be the outer edge of the hoof wall, the outer parts of the sole, and a portion of the heel.
Trimming hooves has as its main purpose to restore the natural shape of the hoof such that weight is evenly distributed based on anatomy and animal comfort.
ID-321 has numerous pictures showing hoof disposition and hoof problems.
In cattle, most of the hoof concerns rest with dairy cattle more than beef cattle. Contrary to what many believe, hoof inspection needs to occur more for livestock on concrete. Often trimming is more necessary for livestock on concrete where a small overgrowth will create more problems than if it occurred on pasture surfaces. For practical purposes, sheep and goats have similar hooves. The main concern with these animals is protecting against foot rot when introducing new animals and keeping the animals out of wet and sloppy areas.
4-Her's showing livestock should find ID-321 particularly helpful as a resource for proper animal foot care. There are several good pictures of the fungal diseases and other problems associated with livestock hooves.
There is also discussion for suggested remedies and treatments for the various conditions. A good glossary of terms concludes the publication.
You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 829-5020 x14 in Owen County or 448-9041 in Clay County for more information or publication copies regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. Please call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While most publications are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time.
Jan. 1 Extension Offices Closed for New Year's Day
Jan. 8 Region 5 Indiana Beef Cattle Assoc. Program, Greencastle, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 9-12 National No-till Conference, Cincinnati, OH
Jan. 15 Starting Bee Keeping, Session 1 of 4, Spencer, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 17 First of six weekly Marketing Commodities for Farm Women, Brazil, 7 p.m.
Jan. 28 Clay County Extension Advisory Council Annual Meeting, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 28-30 Indiana Hort Congress, Indianapolis