Equipping Dairy Farmers to Better Detect and Manage Lameness
Care4Cattle Grant Recipient: Reuben Newsome, The Cattle Lameness Academy, United Kingdom
Project: Creation of a freely available video database for use in modular cattle lameness training programme
The Cattle Lameness Academy is part of Synergy Farm Health based in Evershot Dorset, and aims to share knowledge and promote proactive discussions and long-standing services to help farmers tackle lameness in cattle. It was this innovation, and passion for knowledge sharing, that got the Cattle Lameness Academy selected as one of Bayer’s Care4Cattle grant winners.
“Such a project builds a much-needed bridge between the scientific aspects behind lameness held by vets, researchers and academics, and the farmers and farm workers who need practical ways to apply this knowledge across the world”, says Care4Cattle jury member, Ron Bonnett who is also President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and former World Farmers’ Organisation Board Member.
Dr Reuben Newsome, one of the vets running and developing The Cattle Lameness Academy, explains the need for tailored, modular training programmes for farmers in cattle lameness management:
“Through working at Synergy Farm Health it became apparent that no one service suited all farmers, and services need to be tailored to the farm. Some farmers don’t want an external provider to manage all of their lameness, and in many cases it may not be financially viable for them to do so. Many farmers want to gain the skills to develop their own lameness expertise so that they can better manage lameness on their farms.”
Lameness levels in the dairy industry have remained stubbornly high over the past few decades, with studies still estimating that upwards of 25% of dairy cattle globally are lame at any one time. Worldwide, there are few differences in lameness levels between countries with developed dairy systems.
Reuben comments: “However, we know that farmer detection of lameness is poorer than independently assessed levels, and with farm size increasing and management changing, there is ever increasing scope for the provision of continued lameness education. Therefore we want to empower farmers to manage lameness themselves through training and facilitation, whilst maintaining contact and support for them to manage the problem as they see fit.”
The Care4Cattle grant will now offer Reuben and his colleagues Mark Burnell and Jon Reader, the opportunity to grow their fundamental training programmes in cattle lameness for farmers.
Reuben explains what the grant means to him and the project team: “We are still a fairly small team at The Cattle Lameness Academy, but we have big ideas. For our training programme, we want to develop a range of short training videos and other materials that can be a resource for farmers and farm staff. We want to host these online so that they can be readily available and easy to use. However, it is very difficult to justify the outlay in time spent to develop videos and resources, and the grant enables us to develop the resources and seek professional guidance on developing the online resources too. To put it simply, it means that we can justify spending the time on developing these resources."
Visit The Cattle Lameness Academy to find out more about the fundamental training provided to farmers.
The Bayer Care4Cattle initiative offers livestock professionals a total grant funding of €30,000 and the opportunity to further advance dairy and beef cattle well-being on the farm. Three stand out projects deemed to have the potential to further enhance cattle well-being, were selected by a jury comprising of independent animal well-being experts, alongside representatives from the World Farmers’ Organisation and Bayer.
Find out more about Bayer’s commitment to animal well-being.