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Dairy cow lameness is the main industry welfare issue perceived by consumers and milk buyers. Additionally, milk yield and fertility are decreased in lame cows. Estimates show around 35% lameness in the national herd. Our team approach has already shown real success in reducing lameness on farm, with significant cost benefits achieved. Mobility scoring is a key part of all national approaches to reducing lameness. Even without any other management changes taking place, regular mobility scoring alone has been shown to reduce herd lameness by 15%.
Average duration of lameness on British farms is estimated to be 135 days. Farms performing regular mobility scoring with prompt, effective treatment have been shown to more than halve this, achieving 56% cure after 35 days. We offer independent scoring by trained technicians. Following the scoring, you will then receive a follow-up analysis showing the distribution of new, repeat and recovered cases. This is a critical part of establishing the pattern of lameness on your farm, and ensures that attention is focussed on the right cows for an optimal outcome.
Lameness risk assessments look at all aspects on farm that can affect mobility, from cubicle comfort quotients, to building ventilation, slurry management, cow flow and stocking rates.
Members of our team are qualified to implement this industry recognised structured approach to lameness control on farm. This incorporates a review of the lesions causing lameness on farm and a thorough environmental and management assessment to identify the contributing factors. Knowledge and skill of farm staff is assessed, and the whole team is then brought together to decide on an action plan. The outcome of this is assessed through further mobility scoring and data review so that goals can be altered as improvements are made. As part of this we can make detailed recommendations based on the current best evidence about many aspects of lameness control, including:
A 430 cow herd we worked with had a lameness incidence of 87 cases/100 cows/year. 12 months of working closely with them using the AHDB Dairy Healthy Feet Programme reduced the rate by more than half to 40 cases/100 cows per year. This improvement was worth 2.15p per litre, or £90,000 per year! The main changes were in prompt detection, better prioritisation of cows for trimming, improved technique and referral of persistent cases to the vet. The return on investment in good advice can be huge. If you would like help in costing the effect of lameness in your herd then we can do so for free.
Many farms have a small population of cows which are persistently lame despite being trimmed several times by farm staff or a professional trimmer. Typical examples would be cows with toe necrosis or a non-healing wall ulcer. Historically these cows would often just be culled, but we have a good track record with getting them right. With the use of regional anaesthetia and aggressive removal of infected tissue, the majority of the chronically lame cows we see will cure. We will offer a fixed price per cow by arrangement so that you can more easily weigh up the cost benefit.
We work closely with several of the professional hoof trimmers in the area. A good relationship between farmer, vet and trimmer is a key to successful lameness control.
If you would like us to recommend a professional hoof trimming service, we work closely with Gordon Marsh and Paul Clayton who both hold the highest level of qualification from the National Association of Cattle Foot Trimmers.