Tom Noffsinger, DVM, Production Animal Consultation, Benkelman, Nebraska
Tom Noffsinger, DVM, Production Animal Consultation, Benkelman, Nebraska

Beef cattle lameness can originate from both physical and psychological trauma, according to Tom Noffsinger, D.V.M., Production Animal Consultation, Benkelman, Nebraska. Noffsinger was among three featured speakers at Zinpro Corporation beef-cattle lameness prevention seminars held recently in Dubuque, Iowa; West Point, Nebraska; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“All human contact shapes cattle behavior,” said Noffsinger. “So when we start moving animals, the lameness risk goes up, especially when we move animals without thinking about the potential for injury.”

Physical bruising (or trauma) can occur due to falls or injuries that cattle incur when walking on slick, abrasive, uneven or excessively sloped surfaces, said Noffsinger. Psychological bruising (or trauma) can occur from stress related to long confinement times, changes in housing, loud and strange noises and over-pressuring cattle during movement to different facilities.

“The lion’s share of lameness occurs during the first three weeks after moving animals,” said Noffsinger. “However, proper interaction between caregivers and cattle will reduce the lameness risk.”

Optimizing an animal’s immunity by feeding Zinpro Performance Minerals® in a balanced ration or in a supplement to the diet can help to prepare beef cattle for stressful periods, such as transportation to a new facility, and reduce the potential for lameness, said Connie Larson, Ph.D., Research and Nutritional Services ruminant manager – North America, Zinpro Corporation. “If you optimize your feeding to improve immunity, performance follows,” she said. “Especially for feedlot applications, where there are challenges to hoof health due to digital dermatitis (DD), we recommend Availa®Plus, fed in conjunction with a specific DD Formula.”

Cattle owners and caregivers should be looking for and treating lesions early, before they result in visible lameness, adds Dr. Larson. “Producers often miss the animals that are mildly lame,” she said. “Prompt care for these mildly lame cattle is the biggest opportunity to improve animal well-being and profitability.”

More can be done to be proactive in beef lameness management before seeing animals limp, emphasized Dörte Döpfer, Ph.D., D.V.M., University of Wisconsin – School of Veterinary Medicine. “We need to implement an integrated prevention and control strategy to lameness management that includes proper cattle handling, improved nutrition, footbaths, hoof inspections and trimming,” Döpfer said. “Programs that build awareness and help identify DD and foot rot in beef cattle can be very useful to accomplish improved cattle hoof health and overall performance.”

In addition to hearing from expert speakers, the seminar participants learned about the Step-Up™ Management Program, developed by Zinpro Corporation, in conjunction with the Beef Cattle Institute and Kansas State University. The Step-Up program provides a systematic approach to identify and manage beef cattle lameness.

Zinpro Corporation long ago established itself as a leader in supporting and providing solutions to improve the wellness and performance of animals in such areas as foot health, immunity, weight gain and feed conversion. The company draws from decades of experience and proven research to develop industry-leading business and nutritional tools for the cattle industry.