Dairy Farm Lameness Services

Working together to reduce lameness on your farm

Lame cows within the milking herd are inconvenient for farm staff as well as being extremely costly to a dairy enterprise:

  • reduced milk production, which can continue for 28 days in severe cases
  • increased risk of mastitis or other diseases due to decrease in immunity
  • Reduced reproductive performance
  • a higher likelihood of being not in calf at the end of the lactation.

All of these factors can result in higher than expected rates of culling from the herd. More importantly though, lame cows are a serious welfare concern that affect the public perception of your farm and the New Zealand dairy industry. Once a cow becomes lame a reduction in voluntary feed intake occurs, the degree of which is usually proportional to the severity of the lameness. Lame cows also often spend longer lying down, often doing so in highly contaminated areas such as the yard, track or feed pad. This leads to body condition loss which reduces their ability to sustain milk production and reproductive health/function. In addition, the teat ends face a higher than normal exposure to mastitis-causing bacteria in the environment. Anexa Vets can work with you and your farm staff to improve lameness on your farm, we offer the following services:

Anexa Lameness Services

Healthy Hoof approach

Anexa Vets hoof care is based on DairyNZ’s health hoof programme. This entails a risk assessment of farm tracks, shed layout and management on farm. Risk factors are identified which contribute to lameness followed by recommendations to amend these. This can also be accompanied by staff training in prevention and/or treatment for a thorough lameness approach.

Hoof-It hoof trimming services

Hoof trimming is like a pedicure for cows in that it restores the natural shape, balance and weight bearing surface of the claws. This takes them back to a foot shape as if she were a fresh calved heifer. Hoof trimming is an effective preventative process to help lower the risk of lameness. Prolonged walking during lactation coupled to other lameness risk factors on farm (pressure, status of races, layout of tracks and shed) can lead to changes in weightbearing which can ultimately lead to lameness. Hoof trimming is like hitting the reset button to restore proper angles and sole surface.

Stuart from Hoof-It is an experienced hoof trimmer and can identify hoof issues, and refer them onto the vet where needed.

Cow flow assessment

Slow cow flow in itself, whether on the track or through the shed, doesn’t cause lameness. It’s a symptom rather than a cause. The pressure and congestion that often occur as a result, however, increase wear and tear on cow claws which predisposes them to lameness. Anexa Vets can observe cow flow on your farm both on the tracks and through the shed and offer suggestions to minimise lameness.

Track assessment

To start reducing lameness prevalence in your herd, identifying potential risk areas is the first step. This can then help prioritise the important sections to deal with and make a plan to address or manage these issues. This doesn’t have to cost much, but can save a lot of money in reduced treatment cost, reduced loss of milk and less time spent treating animals. If you would like some help prioritising and understanding which sections are the biggest issues and how you can manage them, one of our Healthy Hoof providers can help you on your way.

Lameness scoring

To identify which cows in your herd are lame and to assist in prioritising cows for treatment the NZ dairy industry has adopted a lameness scoring system. This system places cows into one of four lameness grades. Transport certification regulations specify cows with a score 0 and 1 are fit for transport, but cows with a lameness score 2 need veterinary certification. Score 3 cows can not be transported. For further information or if you would like to learn how to score lame cows, catch up with your local vet or fill out our contact form.

Staff training and practical workshops

Training for our farmer members is an important part of the Anexa Club’s mandate. Anexa Vets offer lameness demo day and workshops throughout the year. If you are interested in learning more, have a chat with your local vet about when the next session is being held or register your interest on our events page.

Training can be done on your own farm and tailored to your needs.

What our farmer members say about our training workshops…

Extremely helpful to be able to work on hooves from the works to gain confidence on how far to dig, and to cut into areas that we wouldn’t normally see. Enjoyed the small groups and being able to ask lots of questions.

K. Steeghs

Was good to learn about prevention rather than just treatment, the practical side helped a lot.

B. McIntyre

“It was very helpful doing the paper work (theory) and practical at the same time and place.”

S. Stafford

Info sheets & how-to guides

It’s often not only what you do, but also how you do it that’s important,  that’s why it’s always a good idea to have a guide handy. Check out our info sheets below and ensure you are taking the best approach.

Information sheets


Bovine Digital Dermatitis (BDD).pdf


Lameness prevention-hoof trimming can help.pdf

Check out the latest advice from our vet team

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