News & Advice

Lameness: Did you know?

Nov 5, 2021 | Dairy, Farm systems, Lameness

Hanneke Officer, Veterinarian, Anexa Vets 

As lameness is a year-round issue on the majority of dairy farms and as it has far-reaching impact on both production and reproduction, prevention is key.

Being aware of the risk factors on your farm can help you plan track maintenance, upgrades and adjustments to reduce the impact of these factors on your cows and decrease lameness prevalence.

Have a look at these photos as an example of common problems occurring on farm and contributing to lameness:

Did you know by nature, cows dislike walking on a sideways gradient? i.e. leaning over. If there are areas on your farm with a gradient of more than 10%, these areas will impact on cow flow; the effective width of the track will be narrowed as the cows will not use the whole track available to the herd. This can cause congestion and increased pressure which can lead to lameness.

Did you know visible footprints in an area of mud indicate either cows prefer to walk in this muddy area or that there is too much pressure on the herd at this spot? As cows pick their way when walking to avoid stepping on stones, they would normally avoid any area where they can’t see what they’re stepping on i.e. areas that are covered in mud/water or faecal matter. If however, the track itself is too uncomfortable, they will use the muddy outskirts of the track.

Did you know shaded areas, places where cows always defecate or areas where drainage is poor/absent can add to your lameness problems? Prolonged exposure to wet areas, especially when track surface is hard, will lead to softening of hooves, which makes them more prone to footrot and puncture lesions.

If lameness is a problem or these photos make you realise there are parts of the layout of the farm you would like to address, getting a vet to do a lameness risk assessment on your farm is an easy solution. An afternoon spent on farm will result in a detailed report listing risk factors for lameness on your farm and potential solutions to manage these risks.  Talk to your vet if you’re interested in an assessment; you only need to prevent two cows becoming severely lame for this assessment to have paid for itself!

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