Cows spend more time standing as calving approaches. “Recent work has shown that there is around a three-hour-per-day increase in daily standing time from four days before calving to the day of calving,” says Nigel Cook, veterinarian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Extra standing during this time may trigger lameness, Cook says.

Heifers are particularly vulnerable to increased standing, especially when moved from a bedded pack, pasture or dirt lot to a free-stall environment. To encourage lying, transition heifers to free-stalls well before calving time. “The close-up pen should not be the first time a heifer sees a free-stall and a headlock,” Cook says.