Foot lameness is a common problem in dairy farming and not unusual in wet conditions. It can be caused by cows having to walk long distances from paddock to the milking shed, particularly if these tracks are not well-maintained, and by standing on concrete floors for long periods. This results in the soles of the feet becoming overworn and bruised, or stones becoming embedded in between the toes. However, it is also related to nutrition and abnormalities in conformation and to impatient stock handling.
Lameness is a painful condition. It causes an animal to eat less and lie down more, resulting in loss of body condition. Management must aim to reduce the causes of lameness and ensure that, when it does occur, it is picked up and treated promptly in order to avoid unnecessary suffering and distress.
The main types of lameness in New Zealand include white line disease, sole, hoof wall crack, footrot and digital dermatitis. Some lameness is above the claw or the type is unclear/unknown.
Why worry about lame cows?
- Lame cows cost you time and money
- They produce less milk, lose weight and take longer to cycle and get back in calf
- Are a serious welfare problem
- Affect staff morale
- It is a public perception risk to all farmers
Early treatment is the key to rapid and complete recovery with minimal disturbance to the cow and her productivity.