Team effort delivers Digital Dermatitis success story on Co Antrim dairy farm

Provita continues to provide its Digital Dermatitis advisory service with great effect, to dairy farmers throughout Northern Ireland. A case in point is the relationship that has built up between the company and Broughshane milk producer Allister McCullough, who manages the 120-strong Rocavan Holstein herd with his father William John.

“The cows are currently averaging 10,500L with good butterfats and proteins,” said Allister.

“Our plan is to increase cow numbers up to 130 by bringing in additional home bred heifers. The herd is milked courtesy of two Lely robots. We also strive to get as much grazed grass into the cows’ diets. And to this end, we invested in a Lely Graze way system last year.”

Allister is quick to confirm that lameness-related problems, particularly those caused by digital dermatitis, are no longer an issue within the herd.

“But that was not the case a couple of years ago. In fact, back then, lameness had become a key management challenge for the herd, so much so that I actually contacted Provita to seek specific advice on the matter.”

In response to this initial contact, Provita’s Kieran Donnelly carried out an initial inspection of the herd. He takes up the story:

“On the basis of the initial hoof inspection work and locomotion scoring, I determined that 85% of the cows in the herd had a lameness-related problem. Obviously this was having an impact on milk production, cow fertility and the animals’ ability to thrive.”

Kieran put an initial plan of action in place which centred on the regular foot bathing of the cows, with Provita’s Hoofsure Endurance as the active ingredient, plus the targeted spraying of individual cows with Hoofsure Endurance also.

“A 5% Hoofsure solution was initially specified for the footbath,” said Kieran.

“This was reduced to 3% after a number of months, by which stage a definite improvement in lameness levels had become obvious.”

Kieran also monitored the hoof condition and locomotion scores of the cows on a regular basis, courtesy of his visits to the Broughshane farm.

Allister McCullough again:

“Today, there are only two cows in the herd showing any sign of a lameness related problem. The dramatic improvement that has been obtained, where lameness levels are concerned, is testament to the work put in by Kieran and the effectiveness of the Hoofsure Endurance product.”