Dry Period Critical to Lameness Prevention

Two thirds of cows lame prior to dry-off will become lame in the next lactation. ( Farm Journal, Inc. )

Cows with low body condition score at the time of dry off are at risk of more lameness. Researchers aren’t quite sure why this is true, but some speculate that body condition scores of less than 2 somehow decrease the digital cushion in the hoof, thus placing more pressure on the corium.

There may be additional factors involved, such as the release of inflammatory mediators during the transition period and other factors that affect the suspensory apparatus in the structure of the hoof, says Gerard Cramer, a University of Minnesota veterinarian and hoof care specialist.            

All of this suggests cows need to enter the dry period in adequate body condition. Dry cow nutrition, comfort and cleanliness are also important in preventing chronic cases of lameness from flaring up and preventing new cases from occurring.

Research shows that nearly two-thirds of cows that are lame prior to dry off become lame in their next lactation. But only 30% of cows that were not lame prior to their dry off foot trim become lame in the next lactation. And just 16% of cows develop lesions in the first 150 days of lactation if they did not have a lesion at their dry off foot trim, says Cramer.              

“Ensuring cows enter the transition period with properly trimmed feet and experience a stress-free transition that minimizes involuntary standing time is likely going to make a large difference in lameness incidence, and in turn, prevalence,” says Cramer.