Lameness in dairy cattle is a subject that continues to come under scrutiny in the dairy industry. Despite progress, it is still an area where many dairy producers can make improvements. Lameness impacts the cow in many ways, including how much she eats and how much time she rests —both of which impact her milk production potential.
“Welfare concerns will only increase in the coming years and the dairy industry must act now to reduce the impact of this costly problem,” says Nigel Cook, veterinarian and associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The good news is it is possible to maintain very low levels of lameness in high-producing dairy herds, if focus is placed on the following six areas:
1. Bed stalls with sand. Sand creates more secure footing in alleys and promotes long lying bouts and fewer bouts per day. It also improves the ability of lame cows to rise and lie down.
2. Provide adequate time for resting. The target should be 12 hours per day as a minimum for lying time per day.
3. Practice excellent hoof health management, which includes preventative routine hoof trimming and the early identification and treatment of lame cows.
4. Use an effective footbath program to assist in the control of infectious hoof disease.
5. Provide good flooring to avoid the risk of slipping, wear and trauma.
6. Provide adequate heat abatement.
Cook shared these six steps at the 2013 Western Dairy Management Conference in Reno, Nev.
Courtesy of Purina Animal Nutrition Herd Smart e-Newsletter