A study of 237 Canadian dairy farms suggests that farmers are diagnosing less than half of dairy cow lameness.
Veterinary students and researchers scored 40 cows in each of the herds, and found an average lameness prevalence of 22%. Dairy farmers estimated the prevalence of lameness in their herds at just 9%.
The missed cases of lameness were highest in tie stall barns, where farmers there were typically missing three out of four lame cows. Researcher prevalence was 1.6, 1.8, and 4.1 times higher in robotic barns, freestall barns and tie stall barns, respectively, say researchers from the University of Guelph in Ontario.
The researchers concluded: “Producers are aware of lameness as an issue in dairy herds and almost all monitor lameness as part of their daily routine. However, producers underestimate lameness prevalence, which highlights that lameness detection continues to be difficult in in all housing systems, especially in tie stall herds.
“Training to improve detection, record keeping, identification of farm-specific risk factors, and treatment planning for lame cows is likely to help decrease lameness prevalence.”