This shows that lameness in cows is not a problem to tolerate. We need to be better at recognizing the signs of it and reducing the conditions that lead to it. Don’t overlook overcrowding and time spent away from their pen (total time for milkings and lock-ups) as contributing factors.
We also need to identify cows with subclinical ketosis sooner and more consistently. There are new tools that can help with that, including milk test strips. These offer a cow-side test for relatively low cost on a sample that is easily obtained.
No one aspect of cow health and comfort can be sacrificed. Problems do not occur in isolation or without impact of other areas of health and productivity. This study was the first to look at the effect of lameness on transition cow behavior and metabolic status. Cows in the transition period are particularly vulnerable to problems and their profitability and even life in the herd hangs in a delicate balance. Take time to monitor cows throughout the dry period and for the first few weeks after freshening.
Calderon, D. F. and N. B. Cook. 2011. The effect of lameness on the resting behavior and metabolic status of dairy cattle during the transition period in a freestall-housed dairy herd. J. Dairy Sci. 94:2883-2894.
Source: Phil Durst, Michigan State University Extension