New foot bathing facility at heart of dairy farm development programme


A commitment to building cow numbers from the current figure of 60 up to 90 plus is at the heart of the farm business plan recently put in place by Carrickmore dairy farmer Ryan McElduff. The 21-year old, who is working with his uncle Patrick, is also committed to a major investment programme on the farm.


“This will entail the installation of a new 12-point Dairymaster milking parlour and new cubicle accommodation to meet the needs of the expanded herd,” Ryan explained.

“And we are getting there. Half of the new cubicles have been put in place and the milking parlour will be installed over the coming weeks. The aim is to use technology as much as possible when it comes to managing the herd. A case in point is the decision to specify the Moomonitor heat detection system with the new milking plant.”


From a production point of view, the key objective moving forward will be to produce as much milk as possible from grass.


“Our aim is to breed Friesian and Friesian cross Jersey cows with the ability to produce milk with excellent components,” said Ryan.


“And we are already well down the road in this regard. The herd is currently averaging 6.500L, averaging 4.84% butterfat and 3.80% protein, which has already resulted in good bonuses. I am feeding 1.7t of concentrates to achieve this level of production. In tandem with the new breeding policy, the herd will be converted to an exclusively spring calving group, so as to make best use of grazed grass.”


“The development plans now in place will have a positive impact on the farm for the next 20 years at least.”


Ryan will readily admit, however, that lameness has been a problem within the existing cows on the farm.


“In the past we never foot bathed: We just treated cows’ feet for lameness or digital dermatitis” he said.


But such is Ryan’s commitment to getting on top of this problem and taking a preventative approach that a bespoke foot bathing facility has been constructed in tandem with the new milking plant. It comprises a collecting area and double-up footbath combination, which the cows can access conveniently post milking. The new footbathing system has been developed by Ryan in conjunction with Provita. The company’s Tommy Armstrong takes up the story.


“Lameness can cost a dairy farmer milking 100 cows up to £10,000 per year based on the UK average of 25%. However, regular foot bathing can prevent 75% of lameness problems from arising in the first place. So it’s an investment that will pay for itself many times over.


“The key to making it work is to have a facility that is easy to use. But systems must also be in place to ensure that the concentration of the footbath solution is used at the correct dilution rate.”


The new foot bathing arrangement is set up within a race way for the cows. They will step, initially, into a 3m-long concrete pre wash bath, containing water only. A further 5 feet along is a stainless steel bath containing the actual footbath solution. Tommy Armstrong again:


“The second footbath has been specifically manufactured to meet the needs of a modern dairy farming business. It is made from stainless steel with a chequered plate finish. Stainless steel was chosen as it is the material which is most resistant to the corrosive potential of footbathing solutions.   


“It is 225cm long, 75cm wide and is 19cms in depth. This provides for an actual footbath solution depth of 13 to 15cm, bringing the total volume of solution in the bath up to 220 litres to 250 liters. Also included in the specification is a stainless steel step off plate. This acts to protect the concrete after the footbath where most of the wear and tear can happen.”


Tommy continued:


“The new set up constitutes a permanent foot bathing facility on the farm. Ryan can utilise it or by-pass-it allowing the bath to be used once a day. This allows the same mix to be reused 3 days in a row, which makes it very cost effective.  He has also specified a water powered, modified pumping system that will act to ensure the required concentration of footbath solution is used at all times. This means when the valve is opened to fill the bath water and Hoofsure Endurance comes out mixed at the right rate every time no matter who is doing the job. It also means you don’t need a measuring jug or to handle the concentrated Hoofsure Endurance.”


Ryan will be using Provita Hoofsure Endurance as the active foot bathing agent. It can be used at a 1% to 5% dilution rate depending on the level of problems and the level of infection risk. It can be increased or decreased as necessary.


The product is a blend of organic acids, tea tree oil and wetting agents that have been specially developed to clean and care for the hooves of cattle and sheep. It is a safe and biodegradable product, which can be easily disposed into a slurry pit or lagoon. Its blend of organic acids helps clean and disinfect the hooves. The wetting agents enhance Hoofsure Endurance’s performance by allowing greater penetration and improved cleaning.


“This efficient set up when used at the selected 2% plan works out a cost of only £8 per day.”


 He continued:


“The new stainless steel baths can be custom made to a bespoke design specification, developed by Provita. We are happy to do a no obligation visit and quote, where a unqique design can be created for any individual farm. They are available to farmers who commit to using Hoofsure Endurance on a long term basis.”