South Waikato veterinary Services



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 :

• Direct Costs of Treatment
• Loss of antibiotic tainted milk
• Loss of chronically lame cull cows
• Preventing lameness
• Decreased milk production in a lame cow
• Loss in body condition due to lameness
• 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 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.


The South Waikato Veterinary Services team is committed to providing top quality and extensive professional services to the Tokoroa, Putaruru, Whakamaru, Mangakino, Tirohanga and Atiamuri areas.

Get In Touch

Contact us at one of our 3 locations

2 Satco Drive, Tokoroa

75 Tirau St, Putaruru

108 State Highway 30, Whakamaru

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