Early intervention needed
Close monitoring of body condition and corrective action to fix problems needs to begin as early as the dry period.
A study published in the October 2011 issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research shows that body condition during the dry period can be an indicator of lameness after calving.
“We can predict which cows will become lame in the subsequent lactation based on data collected during the dry period,” Bicalho says.
Continued vigilance of body condition is vital when lactation commences.
“The ideal body condition score at the beginning of lactation should be between 3.0 and 3.25,” Bicalho says. Intervention to alleviate lameness problems associated with low body condition scores doesn’t have to be complex. It can be something as basic as changing milking frequency.
A clinical trial published in 2011 in the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research found that when milking frequency decreased from 3X to 2X, the body condition scores of lame cows increased and their rate of recovery improved — all without jeopardizing milk yields. (Please see “2X vs. 3X milking” above)
“(With 2x milking), you can speed up recovery from lameness, yet still maintain the same levels of milk production,” Bicalho says.
“We need to start measuring lameness,” says Colorado State’s Grandin. “(You) need to actually count it, otherwise you won’t manage it.”
Given its link to lameness, you now have good reason to extend that philosophy to body condition.