Canada may not be home to many dry-lot dairies, but researchers there now have some of the first data describing the effect of dry-lot systems on cow comfort. The study, presented at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Dairy Science Association, looked at lameness, leg injuries and lying behavior on large dry-lot dairies in Texas and New Mexico.

Here is a look at what the study found:

• Prevalence of clinical lameness averaged 31.7 percent. Severe lameness averaged 2.0 percent.

• Prevalence of swollen knees averaged 16.8 percent.

• The overall prevalence of hock injuries (identified as a score ≥2) was 18.2 percent. The prevalence of moderate-to-severe hock injuries (score of 3, 4, and 5) was 4.7 percent, with almost no presence of severe injuries (score of 4 and 5).

• Lying times were similar across farms, averaging 10.2 hours per day, but cows within farms varied from 1.9 to 17.9 hours per day.

“To our knowledge, this study is the first to describe the variation in lameness, injuries and lying times in dairy cattle housed in dry lot dairies,” say study authors with the Animal Welfare Program at the University of British Columbia in Canada.