When it comes to cattle lameness, no problem is a small problem. That’s why one prominent feedyard veterinarian encourages cattle producers to diagnose and treat lameness quickly.
That’s because, in the cattle business, mistakes can be costly, not only in terms of production, but also in terms of animal well-being. According to Dee Griffin, a veterinarian at the University of Nebraska – Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center in Clay Center, many mistakes can be avoided by establishing proactive stewardship practices that focus on identifying cattle lameness.
In the latest episode of “Experts Talk,” the online lameness-prevention video series sponsored by Zinpro Corporation, Griffin discusses why lameness can be difficult to assess and the importance of addressing even minor foot health issues in cattle. He notes that ignoring risk factors and key lameness indicators can dramatically affect animal well-being and operational productivity.
"Having a little bit of a sore foot is like having a little bit of a splinter in your finger," said Griffin. "It may be a nuisance, but it darn well hurts, and it affects the way you act all day. My best interest, [and] the animal's best interest, is for us to do everything we can to take all those little things off the table. So [the animal] can grow, and perform and have the kind of life that makes good stewardship of our resources."
Cattle lameness affects all beef-cattle-industry segments, including cow-calf operations, stockers and feedlots. To improve the well-being of beef cattle and to combat lameness, producers must be intentional in their lameness management approach. According to Griffin, the critical first step is recognizing normal cattle strides, length of movement and understanding how cattle normally flex their joints.
Often referring to himself as a "cow mechanic," Griffin grew up on a farm and has spent nearly his entire professional career in the cattle industry. He is a known pioneer in the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program and currently specializes in production management, quality assurance, pathology and nutrition.
The Experts Talk online video series, sponsored by Zinpro Corporation, features one-on-one discussions with leading authorities on foot health and lameness prevention for multiple species. Each episode features a different expert discussing topics that range from lameness detection, to treating claw lesions that cause lameness, to best management practices for lameness prevention. To learn more, visit the Experts Talk video library on www.zinpro.com.