Farmers confused about foot-trimming practices, survey finds

Farmers are unsure when to carry out routine foot-trimming and don’t know which trimming method is best, a survey of 354 dairy farmers has found.

Vet and Nottingham University student Sara Pedersen carried out a farmer survey as part of her AHDB-funded PhD into preventative foot-trimming.

She questioned 354 farmers on what preventative trimming they undertook, who was doing it and what more they wanted to know about it.

See also: How to help prevent lameness with foot trimming technique

Results showed that:

  • Most farmers were undertaking routine trimming at specific time points in the management cycle, predominately at or around dry off
  • 47% (135) of respondents said a professional foot-trimmer carried out routine trimming
  • 31% (89) said farm staff did it
  • 22% (63) said a combination of both carried it out

However, key questions raised by the respondents were: When in the management cycle should you trim? At what interval? And what method should be used?

Dr Pedersen said the research reiterated the need for more study into trimming techniques.

“There is very little scientific evidence behind foot-trimming – we need to update the technique for modern cows.”

“The next stage of the research will involve validating toe measurements, examining the effect of calving on foot changes and using ultrasounds to look at live cows’ feet.”
 
 Results will be available in the autumn.