Lameness in Dairy Cows

After infertility and mastitis, lameness is the third most common reason for culling cows on dairy farms.  In the average dairy herd 38 out of every 100 cows is affected by lameness per year, some cows being affected more than once.  90% of lameness cases involve the feet and 90% of these involve the rear feet, the majority affect the outside claw. Lameness prevention is much better than treatment from both an animal welfare and an economic point of view. Locomotion scoring can be used to asses the progress of a lameness action plan, which is likely to include regular foot bathing and foot trimming.

This costs the average 100-cow dairy herd almost £4,595 per year (i.e. approximately 1pence per litre of milk produced) these losses are a result of:

  • Reduced milk yield
  • Increased calving interval
  • Increased inseminations per pregnancy
  • Increased culling rate
  • Cost of treatments, inc. herdsman’s time

Types of lameness:

Normal Anatomy of the Bovine Foot