22 June 2001

Pay more attention to cows teeth

COWS teeth deserve more attention on economic and welfare grounds, concludes vet Brian Ingham following a study of 500 cows mouths at an abattoir

Mr Ingham, who is based in Barnard Castle, Co Durham, believes that producers should have a better awareness of tooth loss and wear even though they are not cited as a reason for culling cows, reports Vet Record.

Independent vet consultant Tony Andrews agrees that dental problems could cause poor animal performance.

"Where there is a problem with intakes which cant be rationalised, look at cows teeth," he says.

"Problems are common in young animals eating silage direct from a clamp, as their teeth are erupting and may be sore.

"And when cattle teeth grow or wear wrongly they can become sharp and damage the animals gum or cheek."

For producers to check cattle teeth a gag is needed to keep jaws apart. Most vets should have access to one, he adds.

"You are looking for insufficient erosion on one or both sides of the jaw or teeth. Problem teeth are often loose and can be removed with your fingers."

The alternative is to file them down, but this will need redoing regularly because cattle teeth continue to come up through the gum to compensate for wear, says Dr Andrews. &#42