Young farmers learn about bovine hoof care in Galway.

Cattle in the Netherlands have benefited from cow chiropody since the 1950s, but it is only now that this aspect of bovine care is being introduced to Ireland.

Hoof care is a serious matter, and it is estimated that it could save the Irish dairy industry up to twenty million pounds per annum.

ACOT (An Chomhairle Oiliúna Talamhaíochta), the national agricultural advisory and training institute and the National Farm Relief Service Co-operative are at present training young farmers in cattle hoof care.

Once farmers have completed the course they will be able to carry out hoof care in their own localities, equipped with a specially designed cattle crush which is manufactured in County Waterford.

Farm Relief Services spokesman Peter Byrne believes that prevention is better than cure, and the provision of affordable hoof care means that farmers will be more inclined to use it regularly when,

More to prevent lameness rather than waiting until the problem actually arises.

After mastitis, lameness is one of the biggest problems the dairy farmer has to contend with, according to ACOT. Felix McCabe of Athenry Agricultural College explains lameness not only reduces milk yields, but can cause cattle to be culled earlier, and also impacts on bovine fertility.

Altogether those add up to a very significant loss.

The cost of the new service will be six pounds an hour, which should work out at about one to two pounds per cow.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 24 September in 1981. The reporter is Jim Fahy.