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Feed essential oils to reduce foot ulcer risk

Making sure cows receive enough essential fatty acids can help reduce the losses associated with sole ulcers, according to Mark Townsend from UFAC UK.

Feed essential oils to reduce foot ulcer risk

Making sure cows receive enough essential fatty acids can help reduce the losses associated with sole ulcers, according to Mark Townsend from UFAC UK.

“Speaking at a UFAC seminar Professor John Huxley from Nottingham University explained there is evidence that lameness risks increase when cows are in negative energy balance,” he explains. “When cows lose condition, the first fat store they mobilise is from the digital cushion. This is the essential cushion of fat that sits just above the sole of the foot, starting near the heel and running forward to the toe and acts as a shock absorber.

As cows lose body condition, the fat pad cushion ‘deflates’ which increases the likelihood of sole bruising (haemorrhaging) and sole ulcers. Each case of sole ulcers costs £325 when consequences including lower yields, reduced fertility and a greater risk of culling are added to treatment costs. The average incidence is six cases per 100 cows making the annual cost over £2000 per 100 cows.

“Lameness in fresh calvers is a particular problem as once a cow starts to go lame it becomes painful to stand up, meaning she will eat less which can make condition loss worse. The aim must be to reduce negative energy balance and also to feed the correct energy sources. “The reason the foot pad suffers first is that it is high in unsaturated C18:1 fat which the cow specifically needs as a rapidly available energy source.
“Feeding supplements high in C18:1 and the essential fatty acids, particularly C18:2 and C18:3, not only replaces the fats used by the cow, they also increase total energy so helping to reduce negative energy balance.
“Adding Dynalac or Omega Cream to the diet will give the cows the energy they require while helping to maintain an effective foot pad to improve mobility and increase dry matter intakes.”

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