Amongst the many challenges dairy farmers face is the weather. When it comes to managing a wet spell, it’s wise to get your head around the different ways your dairy herd can be affected when the rains arrive.
If it’s continuously wet, then your pastures are going to be affected by pugging, sometimes reducing pasture yield by up to 80%. It can be costly and time consuming work to bring these damaged pastures back into full production.
Another thing to consider in wet conditions is the fact the prolonged wet weather can wash away the soil and finer material on farm tracks, exposing larger pieces of gravel that can damage a dairy cow’s hoof. With prolonged exposure to moisture also causing softened hoofs, it’s not uncommon for bruising to occur during these wet periods. There’s also a heightened risk of foot infections (including foot rot) as well.
It doesn’t help that substantial mud coating during these periods can cover up other problems making them hard to identify. Regularly hosing their feet will help you not only identify any potential issues, but help wash away things like stones that may be trapped between their toes.
There are a few different solutions you can look into to help reduce the impact of wet weather conditions on your dairy herd. Amongst these is ensuring you remove cows showing any sign of lameness, placing them closer to the milking shed to reduce the amount they are walking and prevent the potential for any injuries to become more serious.
Applying additional suitable material across affected farm tracks can also help to reduce the wear and tear on softened hoofs. And when moving stock, allowing the herd more time ensures they walk a little more carefully and at their own pace.
Of course, amongst the solutions is exploring different housing options for your dairy herd. These options can include a wintering shed or full-blown dairy barn system. These help dairy farmers provide better control over herd health, protection from the elements and pasture quality during winter months and other wet periods throughout the year. They can also help you jumpstart grass development to ensure your dairy production output remains consistent, regardless of what the weather is doing.
To find out more about some of the options and solutions available, feel free to contact us for a chat about how we may be able to help.