Cows in heat are taking a bath!

Cows in heat are taking a bath!


Photo’s: Albert O’Neill, Ireland. He discovered that cows in heat will stand in the foot bath voluntary. Why do you think this is?

Tips from the farmer:
Some more info from Albert on his footbath: "for the bath a copper sulphate solution is used, or, when hoofs start showing signs of cracking, just water. The bath is cleaned out every 2nd or 3rd day. The cows cross the bath after every milking, however it is sited well away from the milking area, because cows like to stand in it for a while. Sometimes they even use it for 20 minutes!

More tips:
The bath is made from heavy stainless steel sheet metal.

We use copper sulphate or sometimes known as "blue-stone" it works really well but constant use can harden the claws too much causing them to crack. So a minimal amount is used every 2-3 days. If hoofs start to show signs of cracking then we empty the bath and just fill up again with water only. We find it is better to fill with water only rather than stopping bathing for a while because we like the cows to always get used to walking through water 365 days a year.

We use fresh cold water rather than warm water from the plate cooler as we notice active cows on heat like to cool their feet off from the extra walking about. Located in a central loafing area with cow scratching brush nearby the cows are often socializing around this area and cows will stand in it for anything up to 20 minutes at a time.
Because cows like to stand in it for a while the bath needs to be sited well away from the milking parlour exit as it can cause cow traffic problems at milking times.

Best Regards Albert O'Neill"

Update by Albert April 2016

"Here are a couple of photos of the 2nd voluntary footbath I constructed. The big benefit is its simple to fill. Just pull the plug in the drinker mounted on the otherside of the wall to fill it up. Again its the cows on heat that use it the most. Just take out two more cubicles on the crossover"

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Comments (9)

Albert O'Neill

Cows culled for lameness in the last 12 months was 2% of the herd. Other cows which are not in heat will also stand in the bath for a considerable length of time as well.

Anouk Brinkhoff

Hi Albert,
Thanks for the extra info. Great that you shared your experience with us!

Neil Howieneilvethowi

Cows reason more than we allow for, that is why engineers are not the best cowshed designers! Have they learnt to cool their feet when bulling activity gets them inflamed by the extra activity and weight of bearing their riding herdmates? Why shouldn't we think that? But also, we know bulling cows will seek out the least slippery surfaces , presumably as they appreciate the danger of being jumped. Often, where they can they will get off slats. Could that be part of the story for Albert's cows?

Joao Vaz

Great alternative for our cows which suffer from heat at least 3 months a year. Congrat.

paul mambo

well what the mixing ratio of copper sulphate to water to be used in the foot bath?

Ana C. Strappini

Very interesting! Albert, do you observed it in both summer and winter? Congrats!

Albert O'Neill

Correction from my last post , cows culled due to lameness was not 2% as stated but two cows from the herd (190) so that brings the figure closer to 1%. A small amount of copper sulphate just 2-3 kg mixed with 1400 litres of water seems to work fine. The footbath has a smooth floor so the suggestion that cows stand in it for extra grip is false. Cows are out at grass for 6-7months of the year so they don't have 24 hour access during the summer but still walk through it twice a day after milking.

Carsten Houmann

Cows standing in the footbath is strange. But it has nothing to do with copper sulphate og bath design.
Look at the small picture. There is big bull on left side. His crown edge is swollen, the is his knee. He stand whit his head lower than normal. The same is seen on the cows. The cows seems to have a depression. It causes high potassium in roughage. The manure seems to be very thin. Ad a balanced mineral with high amount of magnesium. I think your cows have feed related stress. To much potassium is binding in the cell membrane - gives inflamed legs and hooves. That´s what I see

Anouk Brinkhoff

Carsten Houmann wrote:
Cows standing in the footbath is strange. But it has nothing to do with copper sulphate og bath design.
Look at the small picture. There is big bull on left side. His crown edge is swollen, the is his knee. He stand whit his head lower than normal. The same is seen on the cows. The cows seems to have a depression. It causes high potassium in roughage. The manure seems to be very thin. Ad a balanced mineral with high amount of magnesium. I think your cows have feed related stress. To much potassium is binding in the cell membrane - gives inflamed legs and hooves. That´s what I see

Hi Carsten,

Thanks a lot for your feedback here and on our other blogs. Great to read your observations!

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