Following a trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin as part of Zinpro’s Three Trucks Trip, Anna Haigh has summarised Gerard Cramer’s interesting paper on reducing cattle lameness below:

Prevalence of lameness is defined as the number of new cases x duration of the disease. In most studies, typically around 40% of cows have some prevalence of lameness, with infectious lesions being the most common. But why is prevalence so high? A study by Leach et al, 2012 shows that it is the delay in treatment and extension of time the cow is lame that increases the prevalence, not an increase in the number of incidences.

React quickly: It is the initial recognition of lameness that is key to reducing prevalence. Regular mobility scoring of cows whilst in headlocks can improve the cure rate of lameness by 50%; however, this method relies heavily on observing weight distribution which is not the best method for identifying lameness. Locomotion scoring has been seen to increase cure rates 2.2 times than those that were not observed (Wynands et al, 2016).

Treatment: The way in which lameness is treated can also reduce duration of the disease. The use of topical treatments on open lesions can delay the healing process of claw horn disease (CHD), the caustic nature of these can further damage tissue requiring repair and also cause excess horn growth. Block application to the unaffected claw serve as better treatment for CHD once the lesion has been well cleaned.

Prevention of new lameness cases by hoof trimming is effective, however there are lots of different methods using both big (leaving 18mm unmodelled around the hoof edge) and small modelling (42mm unmodelled). Gerard Cramer showed us results from a study comparing big vs little modelling undertaken when cows were dried off and the prevalence of lameness.

Table 1


Prevention: Results also showed that by undertaking a big model at the end of the first lactation, there was a 70% less likelihood of a hoof horn lesion in the 2nd lactation compared to those with a small model. The attention to feet in the first lactation therefore is essential in the reduction in prevalence of lameness in subsequent lactations, and continued monitoring and fast action will keep that prevalence low.