Feet matter, Schramm explains to beef producers
DUBLIN, Va. — Dr. Hollie Schramm, clinical professor from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, focused on the bovine foot in a discussion here about structural soundness and confirmation, especially in beef cattle, and common causes of lameness in those animals during a recent meeting here.
Her overall message was that feet are important in cattle.
“If you don’t have animals that have soundness you are going to lose money,” she said.
She brought news of heel warts, seen previously. It has been present in dairy herds for some time.
She reported that heel warts — a cause of lameness the beef farmers may not have much experience with — are highly contagious and considered a biosecurity issue. She suggested quarantine for animals arriving on the farm as an initial treatment.
She advised cattlemen to do a visual assessment of any animals they are acquiring, especially females. Look at the head, mouth and eyes, but don’t forget feet.
“Look at their feet first,” she said.
She used pictures to show the way normal and abnormal hooves look and explained how they relate to the animal’s bone structure and angle. She pointed to a needed awareness of both toe and heel sizes.
“Watch them walking,” she advised. “Look at them when they are walking and see how they place their feet. All confirmational problems lead to foot problems.”
She explained this should be done from behind the animal, stressing that the hind foot should be placed in about the same place as the front one has just landed as the animal moves ahead.
Schramm outlined some of the factors that affect the feet of cattle in different stages of life. These include nutrition, hormones early in life stresses the animals face. Making trace minerals available to animals is a helpful practice, she said.
In researching the topic, Schramm said there is not much information available about lameness but assured the farmers lameness can be treated in most cases. Doing it sooner than later is good and keeping good records about lameness.
This will be helpful when it is time to cull animals from the herd.
During her lecture, Schramm discussed such conditions as foot rot, corkscrew hoof and severe stifle or an injured knee. She urged the farmers to be especially aware of lameness in feed lot animals where it is wet and muddy.
She explained that most of her work is in the lab and not the field but she does take her students out for hands on learning.
She joined the VetMed faculty in 2007 and settled in nearby Pulaski County with her family. The mother of two boys and her husband hope to one day have a farm of their own.
“I love to teach and I love to learn,” she told the group. “This really makes me happy serving you.”