Researchers used a three-point locomotion-scoring system to evaluate 1,450 cows on 19 Dutch dairy farms. The results show these risk factors were correlated with lameness, as evidenced by an increase in locomotion score:

  • Presence of a hoof-trimming stall with a foot-lifting apparatus increased locomotion score by 0.15 points, compared with not having such an apparatus.
  • Presence of a footbath at the parlor exit or other site on the farm increased locomotion score by 0.17 and 0.19 points, respectively, compared with not having a footbath. (Reduced locomotion may have been due to improper footbath use on these farms.)
  • Not providing supplemental vitamins and minerals to lactating cows increased locomotion score by 0.17 points, compared with supplementing animals.
  • Feeding corn silage to heifers increased locomotion score by 0.10 points, compared with not doing so. (Rapid fermentation of corn silage in the rumen may lead to metabolic disorders which reduce hoof-horn development. The study’s authors cite a growing body of research that shows an association between corn silage and an increased risk of lameness.)

The authors conclude that “improving diet management, ensuring that farmers can trim feet correctly (or use a trained expert), and using a footbath correctly may assist in lowering the prevalence of high locomotion scores.”

Study results appeared in the May Journal of Dairy Science.

May 2006 Journal of Dairy Science