This good practice is addressing the Priority topic animal health and welfare and is to be used as a simple tool to measure animal welfare standards on beef farms. Especially on beef farms claw health often is a big challenge. This good practice was implemented on a chairolais-farm in North Rhine-Westphalia. The herd lives on pasture in summer but regularly has to walk on paved roads to get to the next part of pasture. Therefore, a good health of the claws is inavitable.
For regularly checks of claw-health the usage of the claw-template “claw-check” proved to be very helpful. At least twice (at the beginning and at the end of grazing period) all animals get their claws checked with this tool. If the farmer has the impression of poor claw health he can select single animals or a group of animals for an additional check. To use the template every animal has to enter a hoof stand. Every claw is inspected for obvious lesions. Then the claw is measured with the claw-check. In this case the farmer measures 5 parameters: the height of the claws, length of the front of the claw, the equal coming down of both sides of the claw and the angle of the claw. If a parameter should differ strongly from the forms of the template the claw can immediately be corrected. This procedure always takes time but it also saves a lot of time and money as deficits in claw health are detected early. Thus the claws can be corrected immediately and complex and expensive treatments can be avoided. Even so, it’s challenging to get every animal into the hoof stand. It takes a good preparation and enough persons to help. Once a good procedure is found it becomes more and more a routine for person and animal.
The good practice is primarily used to increase animal health and welfare by enabling an early detection of claw lesions and prevent serious illness in claws. At the same time it is an improvement in economic resilience as expensive treatments of serious claw lesions are mostly unnecessary. The prevention of illness is also important to improve beef image. Nevertheless this good practice also requires investments. A hoof stand and normally a few panels to steer animal movement are necessary. Also an investment of time and personal is needed to inspect the whole herd. Experience shows that once a good procedure is implemented the procedure becomes quicker every time as personal and animals are used to the procedure. A good preparation is the clue for saving time.