DHI – Official launch 28th November 2019

Finally, it’s happening! New Zealand is getting its own Dairy Hoofcare Institute.

On the 28th of November, the Dairy Hoofcare Institute NZ will be opened by Andrew Falloon in Ashburton.

This institute will, as the name suggests, concentrate on the education and training of hoof care in cattle.

Why would we need an institute like this you may ask? Hoof care in our cattle, together with infertility and mastitis, is amongst the top three animal health issues on our farms. It is a very costly problem and a very painful one for the cows. NZ has had a major advantage over the years when it comes to lameness because of our pasture-based farming systems. Thirty to forty years ago we didn’t have much of a lameness issue at all, but since then our farming practices have intensified enormously. The average herd size in 1987 was around 150 cows, now it’s about 450 cows and the average kilogram of milk solids have gone up from 260 kg/cow to 360 kg/cow in that time.

The increase in lameness issues have followed on the heels of intensification, however, our skill level hasn’t improved accordingly. Many farmers and farm staff are telling me that all the training they had was a 20-minute demonstration from their employer. Lots of farmers have done a hoof trimming course with the local vet practice, but the vets, with all due respect, are often not sufficiently trained in Hoof Health and trimming themselves. To try and put the skill level of effective hoof trimming into perspective, in Europe, where hoof trimming has been a professional occupation for decades, people study and train for 14 months. After the 14 months of trimming cows’ feet, under full-time supervision, 40% still fail the exam, which gives some indication of just how much is involved in doing proper hoof care. It demands a lot more skill than peeling a potato, for example.

I have been running hoof trimming workshops and courses in NZ for many years now. I have also had the privilege of training most of the professional Hoof Trimmers in NZ. I  completed my qualifications as a Hoof Trimmer and Instructor through the Training Centre in Oenkerk, Netherlands. These qualifications are the art of trimming cows feet according to the Dutch method. This method was developed by E. Toussaint Raven, in conjunction with the Dairy Training Centre in Oenkerk and the University of Utrecht (NL). It is the most respected method in the farming industry worldwide and it has proven to be very effective in NZ as well.

Since completing my qualifications, an opportunity came up to partner with the Dairy Training Centre in Oenkerk. This partnership means that we are able to teach the curriculum of DTC, and we can offer exams which allows the successful candidates an industry-recognised qualification. In order to guarantee quality, my skills and abilities need to be re-assessed every 2 years. This also means that the qualification and the training can now be given through an official training institute.

So, by starting up the Dairy Hoofcare Institute, we are trying to lift the standards of hoof trimming in NZ to the level where we can regain control over the lameness status on our farms. We are making high-quality training available for farmers, veterinarians, hoof trimmers and anyone else who has an interest in cattle farming and Hoof Health!

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