Experience proves cost-effective
I have had a conversation with a farmer about trimming cow’s feet. He was managing a farm and his contract stated that he was required to have a minimum number of staff members. Because of that, he had plenty of labour power, so one of the jobs that he got his staff to do was to trim the lame cows. That seems to make sense – you want to save as much money as you can, right? Let’s think about that for a bit. If money is a bit tight and you have a toothache, would you get one of your staff to sort it out for you? Or likewise, do some of you, who know how to inseminate a cow, take on this responsibility yourself this year to save money?
For most farmers, the answer will be “NO” to both of these questions and I would assume that the reason for that, in most cases, will be because of the quality of the job done, and in the case of your toothache, it may have a pain factor as well. Most people realise that the better your in-calf rate is, the better your bottom line profit will be, so it pays to get an experienced AI technician to inseminate your cows – the same is true for trimming lame cows. It does pay to utilise the skills and experience of qualified hoof trimmers if you want to save time and money –“how does that work?” I hear you saying, “How can I save money by paying someone to do a job that one of my staff can probably do just as well?” I guess the answer to that will be largely influenced by your understanding and acceptance of the skill involved in proper hoof trimming which will minimise the recovery time of your cows ensuring that they return to full productivity quicker, but also with the very real difficulty in quantifying the cost of lameness.
Do you know how much lameness costs you? Can you work it out? It’s not that easy is it? A lot of the cost of lameness comes from reduced productivity, and that varies per cow. There are many factors at play like the time of the year when the cow is going lame, the severity of the lameness, etc. DairyNZ worked out that the average cost of a lame cow is around $500 and that on average 35% of your herd will be lame in a season. So a farm milking 1,000 cows could have a $175,000 lameness bill in a season. That is not so much a bill that is being paid out, but more so a cheque that is not coming in. We worked out that if the cost of a lame cow is $500 (and I think that is conservative) then the industry is missing out on nearly a billion dollars a year. Beware of having a false economy mentality and ensure you are utilising your staff where they are going to be most productive in using their individual skill sets.