Karl Burgi Foot trimming Workshop

We were lucky enough to spend the day with Karl Burgi.  Karl is regarded as one of the best foot trimmers in the world, and what he doesn’t know about foot trimming isn’t worth knowing!

Firstly, Karl stated that 95% of claw horn lesions are found in the outer claws, and interesting, studies have shown that the most common foot to be affected is the BR.

Karl spoke about footbaths, and the measurements for an effective footbath – I won’t bore you with figures, however, he recommended having sidewalls (1.8m high) attached to the race before, throughout and after the actual footbath – this improves cow flow, and it has been proven that it stops cows from excreting in the footbath. Sidewalls can be a cheap and easy way to improve foot bathing – the idea is to make the cow focus on the end of the race, encouraging her to walk through without stopping. In order for this to work, the race must also be narrow.

He also mentioned pre foot bathing which he wasn’t keen on, as he feels the pre-bath encourages the cow to excrete in the treatment bath, and also a wet foot reduces disinfectant absorption. You are better to have a longer foot bath (3.5-4m), ensuring the cow dunks both her back feet at least twice in the treatment solution.

He then went on to speak about some of the common foot lesions:

  • Footrot (or foul in the foot) mainly occurs in the 1st 60 days, so look at your dry cow and fresh cow management, and maybe consider foot bathing close up cows? Attempt to treat footrot before swelling, as swelling reducing blood circulation increasing antibiotic usage and recovery time = time is money!
  • A 5% formalin footbath is good for foot rot, however, it is bad for Digital Dermatitis (DD), as it burns the DD, creating a scab which pushes the bacteria in further, therefore for DD treatment, use <1.5% formalin.
  • White line disease is commonly seen in grazing herds who have to track long distances, or it can also be seen when cows are on slippery surfaces or have 90 degree turns in their environment. Karl mentioned that he sees a lot of white line in herds housed in slatted buildings, due to the wall of the foot catching the edge of the slat.
  • Toe ulcers can be caused by over trimming, too much wear as well as severe metabolic problems; E.coli Mastitis, DA’s and Retained Placenta.
  • Sole fractures are caused by cows standing too long, perching in cubicles, and lots of slopes in their environment.

During the workshop, a farmer asked whether he should be providing rubber matting at the feed bunker to improve lameness. Karl preferred if he concentrated on the cubicle comfort due to the fact, if it is comfy to stand on, the cows will stand there for longer than normal when ideally you would like them to be lying down. Remember, every hour a cow lies down for, she produces 1.5 litres of milk.

Thank you to Karl Burgi and David Rowe for running the workshop, and thank you to A W Pomeroy & Sons for hosting the afternoon practical session.