Tuesday, 10 December 2019
The Healthy Feet Programme works to reduce lameness and it gives a return on investment. However, at least initially, that isn’t going to get many farmers phoning you up asking for your help in reducing their lameness. If only life were that simple!
No-one claims that starting out selling your services as a Mobility Mentor is easy initially. Learning from other Mobility Mentors can help. There are many examples of how practices have successfully incorporated the Healthy Feet Programme into their work, but all have had to start somewhere. And let’s face it, the potential is enormous.
We've compiled some ideas from the experiences of other Mobility Mentors:
- Go for low hanging fruit. Initially, choose keen farmers that you get on well with. Whilst you might have in mind some other farms who you feel would benefit more from tackling lameness, in fact the first few farms you work with may have lameness relatively under control as these are the ones who prioritise it already. Don’t beat yourself up if you spend longer than you intend and charge less than you’d like for the first Healthy Feet Programme you deliver. Consider your first couple of farms as a learning exercise for yourself too.
- Build a mobility scoring capacity. Lots of innovations are happening in farm practices up and down the land. One big change is the increasing use of paraprofessionals or “Vet Techs”. Whilst different practices have differing approaches here, and the roles of Vet Techs are far from uniform, many are undertaking mobility scoring. On the whole, this has been very positive for getting more involved with lameness management, because independent mobility scoring generates data, and this is often the key to unlock further involvement by the vet practice to help the farmer better understand and manage lameness.
- Set up a time-lapse camera. For at least one vet practice we know, collecting some time-lapse footage of cow behaviour in their clients’ herds using a GoPro camera was just the hook required to encourage farmers to do the Healthy Feet Programme. It was about piquing the farmers’ interest with some fascinating viewing whilst demonstrating the enthusiasm and expertise of the Mobility Mentor too. There is often more to lameness reduction than farmers first realise (both the causes and effects) and a little discussion on cow behaviour in a shed can be just what is needed to set something in motion.
- Buddy up. If there are two trained Mobility Mentors in the practice you are more likely to help and enthuse each other. It makes it easier organising a Healthy Feet discussion group, for example. If that isn’t possible for you, choose a member of support staff who you can partner up with (e.g. a ROMS accredited mobility scorer) to become lameness champions together.