South Waikato Veterinary Services

Home    Clinics    Farm Animal Services     Dairy Resources     Small Animal Services  

News & Articles      Newsletters      Staff       Links

 
 

LAMENESS

Lameness in dairy cows is often underestimated as a production-limiting condition. For many farms, lame cows are an ongoing issue, costing in both treatments and milk loss. The chronicity is because lameness is due to far more than one cause alone on farm. Races, cow handling, weather and cow health, all play a part. With the trend towards larger herd sizes, cows are also having to walk larger distances to reach the milking shed.


How Much Does Lameness Cost You?

Behind Reproduction and Mastitis, Lameness is the third most common cause of economic loss. These costs include :   

  1. Direct Costs of Treatment

  2. Loss of antibiotic tainted milk

  3. Loss of chronically lame cull cows

  4. Preventing lameness

  5. Decreased milk production in a lame cow

  6. Loss in body condition due to lameness

  7. Lowered reproductive performance due to lameness -  one     study showed lame cows get in calf on average 18 days later than their healthy peers.


Treating Individual Cows

Whilst some of our clients are competent and happy to treat their own individual lame cows, there are many farms we visit to do the same. The vast majority of lameness issues are associated with the foot, or as we call them, claw lesions. This means we will ALWAYS lift the foot of a lame cow to examine them for issues. The ideal facility for treating lame cows is a Wrangler or similar unit.

Your cows feet will be tested with hoof testers to find the source of pain (if the source is not immediately apparent), then any damaged or loose hoof removed and any source of infection opened to drain.

Cowslips may be used to give your cow relief from walking on the painful claw, thus reducing loss in milk production, body condition and reproductive performance.


Whole Herd & Farm Analysis

Prevention is always better than cure, but of course we are only called to help with a major lameness problem on farm after multiple cows have been seen for the issue. Even if you are treating your own lame cows, thus ‘saving money’ on vet fees, consider all the costs listed above that these cows are still losing you. To prevent lameness occurring, the factors on farm which are causing it must be identified. Many aspects of the farm must be considered:

The condition of the races leading up to the milking shed.

Tight turns or awkward exits and entries to the milking shed.

Races which are too narrow or have sides which are too steep

How the cows are brought to the shed - pushing the back of the mob will not increase the speed at which they arrive at the shed, it will only cause lame cows.

Occasionally nutritional deficiencies can increase lame cow incidence.


Check out www.lamecow.co.nz for more useful information, or phone the clinic to book in an appointment to assess possible problems and to make a plan to reduce lameness on your farm.

Calf disbuddingCalf_Disbudding.html
General ServicesGeneral_Services.html
Cattle VaccinationsCattle_vaccinations.html
Lameness
Teatseal ApplicationTeatseal_appication.html
Pregnancy TestingPregnancy_Testing.html
Mastitis ConsultsMastitis_consults.html
Milking Shed ChecksMilking_Shed_Checks.html
Herd MetrichecksHerd_Metrichecks.html
MindaMinda.html
Trace element monitoringTrace_Element_Monitoring.html
ReproductionReproduction.html