Better stall management decreases lameness

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Lameness can be a tricky issue to make progress on because it often requires multiple solutions, says Dan Weary, animal welfare expert at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. His group's research has shown that simple changes in stall design and management can make for big changes in cow comfort, and more comfortable stalls reduce the risk of lameness. For example, cows will spend up to 4 hours a day more time lying down when provided dry, well-bedded stalls, compared to stalls that are wet or poorly bedded. “We can show a consistent, repeatable pattern — cows spend more time lying in dry, well-bedded stalls,” Weary says. In addition to looking at when and where cows lie down, Weary also emphasizes the importance of providing cows a dry, comfortable place to stand. In particular, he urges producers to avoid stalls with aggressive neck rail placements. The neck rail forces cows to “perch” in the stall, leaving the back hooves in the alley and increasing the risk of lameness.

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