Bring a Comprehensive Hoof Health Management Program to Your Dairy Producers

As a dairy nutritionist or consultant, your success is probably judged by how well the producer’s herd performs; and your ability to improve the herd’s performance may be limited if there are issues beyond your area of expertise. This could include lameness, heat stress, transition cow management, cow comfort and a host of other challenges. While it’s impossible to be an expert on every challenge you encounter, the key to solving the issue is knowing where to go to fill your knowledge gap.

Dairy producers are continually battling lameness in their operations. Lameness is a complex issue, and prevention requires a comprehensive program. Since you are a key advisor they will turn to you, but you may not know where to start if you’re not a hoof health expert. As you try to add value to your customers’ dairy operations, it’s frustrating to not be able to solve the challenges they are facing because you don’t have the right information or resources.

The FirstStep®Dairy Hoof Health & Management Program offers a handy tool that arms you with the resources needed to complete a comprehensive overview of the entire operation to quickly identify the key bottlenecks limiting your client’s success. Created in partnership with renowned hoof health expert Nigel Cook from the University of Wisconsin, FirstStep is like having over 40 years of Zinpro’s expertise at your fingertips.

Our program puts you in the driver’s seat to provide your customers with informed recommendations for improving their herd’s hoof health. The improvements will even extend well beyond lameness and hoof health, allowing you to bring true value to their business.

The new FirstStep program has improved functionality that allows for a smoother user experience while packing 19 assessors to enable you to really home in on the key constrictions of performance. It includes a resources section to educate you on the processes of analyzing the conditions on the farm, along with economic calculators to help you and the dairy farmer understand the value of your recommendations.

FirstStep helps you add value to your services on a dairy operation. Let’s explore how it works.

FirstStep in Action 

The FirstStep program includes a comprehensive suite of assessors that can help you become a hoof health and management expert. By accessing the program on your computer, mobile device or tablet, you can make informed recommendations for preventing lameness in three steps: 

  1. Assess 
  1. Analyze 
  1. Improve 

Assess 

During this step, you will enter information about the conditions on the farm that are causing lameness and other hoof health issues. Some assessors are:  

  • Locomotion scoring 
  • Hygiene scoring and footbath protocol 
  • Freestall and tie stall design 
  • Heat abatement strategies 
  • Walking surfaces 
  • Nutrition and feeding 

Analyze 

The program will analyze the data you have entered and let you know where improvements can be made. It will compare the conditions on the farm you’re working with against industry best practices and show you exactly how to make improvements. These recommendations and benchmarks have been formulated by the FirstStep team and university experts based on decades’ worth of research and experience in the field.  

Improve 

Once you have analyzed the data, you can pass on your recommendations to the producer. The program allows you to create a full report that you can share to walk through the results and the recommendations. Add your own logo for a customized look that increases your credibility and differentiates your offering from the competition. You can even seamlessly share the report with your Zinpro representative to help you formulate your strategic recommendations.  

More Than Just Lameness 

Improving hoof health is the main purpose of the FirstStep program, but it is about so much more than just lameness. The recommendations that come from each assessor will have a cascading effect that will improve many other areas of dairy production.

For example, the ventilation assessor can help mitigate the impact of heat stress in the herd. The freestall and tie stall assessors can improve cow comfort in ways that not only strengthen hoof integrity, but also increase lying time so cows spend less energy standing and more energy producing milk.

The variety of assessors in the FirstStep program can improve many aspects of dairy performance, starting with the feet.

Transition Cow Assessor 

There is no time more critical for a dairy cow than the transition period. Success in this phase of life sets her up for smooth sailing through the rest of lactation. It is such an important part of dairy production that the new FirstStep program includes a much more robust assessor dedicated solely to the transition period. 

Ensuring that cows are prepared to join the milking herd is highly dependent on:  

  • Facility design  
  • Cow management 
  • Social structure  
  • Cow comfort 

The transition assessor can help the dairy producers you work with maximize the potential of their transition cow management so their herd has a healthy and productive lactation.  

Using the program, you will enter data about the herd’s performance during the transition period, the herd’s disease rate, and details about the transition cow facilities. Just like with the rest of the assessors, the transition assessor will identify areas of transition cow management that do or do not need improvement.

Become a Solution Expert 

Continuing to add value to the solutions you provide dairy producers goes beyond providing the best trace mineral nutrition. Providing a comprehensive strategy for improving hoof health and transition periods will improve the bottom line for them. Let us bring our expertise to your customers so you can continue to add value to the services you’re providing. It’s a win-win!

To learn more about the FirstStep program and how you can use it to start improving dairy cattle hoof health or the transition cow period, contact your Zinpro representative today

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