Internationally renowned vet headlines farmer talk

One of the most respected veterinarians, Roger Blowey will headline a farmer talk on the latest findings in the world of cattle lameness. Provita in conjunction with Moore Concrete and Barclays Bank will be hosting a cattle lameness talk in Northern Ireland on Tuesday 21st February in the Glenavon Hotel, Cookstown, Co Tyrone at 7.30pm, it will be chaired by Richard Halleron. There will be workstations on various topics available from 6.30pm.

Roger Blowey was the first veterinarian to identify Digital Dermatitis in the UK in the 80’s and has been at the leading edge of research on Digital Dermatitis and Lameness ever since. His talk will cover the basics in the causes and prevention of lameness and the latest research in the areas of Digital Dermatitis including dry cows and heifers.

Roger Blowey has spent over 40 years in farm animal veterinary practice, at the same time as doing research into cattle lameness. He is a well-known speaker both at home and overseas, and the author of a range of scientific papers and several textbooks.

The Provita talk and workstations will cover the areas of; customised stainless steel and concrete footbaths, semi-automated volume control systems, modified dilution rate pumps, Hoofsure footbathing products, examples of successful protocols, Hoofsure HELP service and Digital Dermatitis App.

Moore Concrete will be presenting their innovative Surefoot™ slat, at the workshops, which provides 50% more grip, when compared to conventional brushed slat surfaces.

Surefoot™ slats where developed to deliver significant benefits to animal welfare, combined with an economic return on investment for farmers. Moore Concrete is delighted to have the opportunity to share their findings, with local farmers.

The presentation will focus on the findings of independent studies carried out by renowned veterinarian Owen Atkinson, the man who heads up the Cheshire-based Dairy Veterinary Consultancy.

Surefoot™ slatted floors appear to be liked by cows, providing them with more confidence to exhibit their natural behaviours. The additional grip and comfort achieved over conventional slatted or solid floors is likely to have a range of benefits. These include stronger bulling behaviour, less slips and injuries; more confident walking behaviour, with better hoof health and less lameness.

Research confirmed that cows track better with lower underlap when walking, taking longer strides, on Surefoot™ slatted floors than either conventional brushed slats or solid concrete floors.

The most tangible health and welfare benefit is achieved from a reduction in slips and injuries.  A UK Survey estimated that approximately 2% of cows are prematurely culled each year due to such injuries, at a replacement cost of £1,800 per animal. Our research found there is a 7-fold reduction in culls, due to slipping for cows housed on Surefoot slats, which are worth over £30 per cow per year.

Furthermore a considerable number of farmers reported that lameness was significantly reduced when their cows were housed on Surefoot™ slats, looking at a conservation reduction of 5%  in lameness would provide an economic benefit of £12.37 per cow per year.

Research also identified a positive effect on oestrus activity and increased bulling behaviour, resulting in a reduction in average calving interval from the UK average of 410 days to 393 days for cows housed on Surefoot™ slats. This reduced calving interval, by on average 5 days, provides in an additional economic benefit of £16.50.

Overall the cumulative economic cost benefit of housing cows on Surefoot™ slats is estimated to be approximately £60 per cow per for a typical herd.

The Barclays Bank Agriculture talk will focus on managing finances on dairy farms to cope with volatility in the dairy sector.

Agricultural manager James Trotman:

“Managing volatility in any business is tough, to manage it in the Northern Irish dairy sector is especially so with such a large majority of the milk destined to leave for the mainland or export as it leaves the industry highly susceptible movements in global markets. The pain felt across the sector recently has been truly magnified in Northern Ireland, with many having some very tough decisions to take and constantly evaluating their business to develop a sustainable business model. This focus is something which needs to become a constant and not just a business strategy undertaken in tough times. Yields are not the saviour, it is driving down costs, optimising margin and where possible building a financial cushion when the market is buoyant are the basics which can help a business survive the downturns when they come. Barclays has supported agriculture for over 325 years and in that time the parameters of responsible lending have not changed, to have the long term financial support a business must demonstrate it has long term viability and the ability to repay borrowings”.

There will be tea and scones afterwards, although an open meeting to everyone interested in lameness to help with numbers we request that anyone wanting to attend register for the event on