Lameness is a major problem in the dairy industry.

"Lameness affects your best cows," says Rodrigo Bicalho, assistant professor of dairy production medicine at Cornell University. The highest-producing cows are the ones that have the highest likelihood of being lame, he adds.

High-producing cows often have a lower body condition score because they are working hard to produce milk. "Thinner cows have a much higher likelihood to be lame than a better-conditioned cow," he told those attending the recent Western Dairy Management Conference in Reno, Nev.

There are various things a producer can do, such as milking cows two times a day rather than three if they are lame. Or, creating a separate pen for lame cows so they are not over-crowded. And, promoting proper body condition is key.

Research at the University of British Columbia indicates that the incidence of clinical lameness is 26 percent or higher in many geographic regions. Among 43 farms in British Columbia, they found 26 percent incidence, on average, and even higher rates in California and the northeastern U.S.

A new program from Novus International is intended to help dairy producers enhance the comfort and well-being of their herds so they can better maximize productivity and enrich dairy industry sustainability. That includes getting a handle on lameness.

The program is called C.O.W.S., which stands for Comfort, Oxidative Balance, Well-Being and Sustainability. The C.O.W.S. program will be offered to individual key Novus customers as a complementary, value-added service. Confidential farm evaluations will be performed by Novus specialists and include:

  • Cow lying time measured with electronic data loggers.
  • Gait scores and hock health.
  • Facility design and management measures that affect cow comfort, including bedding frequency, stall dimensions, neck rail placement, feed bunk space and more.

A customized report is provided to each farm, along with benchmarks of other operations in the region, so producers can gauge whether they have problems that should be addressed.
A More information about the C.O.W.S. program can be obtained through Novus representatives or by visiting Learn more about oxidative balance in dairy cows by visiting