LAMENESS

Introduction

Lameness has become an increasingly important problem in cattle over the last 20 years, due to many factors including increased intensity of management, diet changes, genetics, and the emergence of new diseases.

        More intense management:  
   
              dairy cows now spend more time on concrete.  
              dairy cows may spend many hours daily waiting to be
              milked
        Diet:
              subclinical laminitis
              not enough high quality fiber/roughage or too much grain
        Genetics:
              cows are much larger than 20 years ago but their feet
              are about the same size
              cattle selected for production "numbers"; milk
              production or daily weight gain

Range or pastured cattle tend to have fewer foot and leg problems.  Life on "slurry" covered concrete, typical of many dairy cattle management systems, predisposes their feet to both infectious and non-infectious hoof disease.

The reasons for dairy cows leaving the herd (being culled) are:
   
                        1.  Low Production
                      2.  Reproductive Failure
                      3.  Lameness
                      4.  Mastitis

It can be argued that lameness has a tremendous impact on both low production and reproductive failure.  Low production results because a lame cow will spend more of her time lying down at the expense of time spent eating.  Reproduction may be affected because a lame cow will not readily exhibit signs of estrus or maintain the proper body condition to cycle and become pregnant.

General Comments

Lameness in cattle is mostly in the foot -> 90% of all bovine lameness.

90% of lameness in cattle is in the hind foot.
           Hind foot lameness is mostly in the lateral claw.

Hoof growth rate: 5 mm/month generally (range of 2 to 6 mm.month)
Highly variable in incidence rate of lameness from herd to herd.
            average 30 cases per 100 cows in several surveys.
            20% of lame cows are culled from herd.
            80% of lameness occurs in the 1st 3 or 4 months after calving

Two major categories of Bovine foot disease:
            1.  Infectious Foot Disease
   
           2.   Non- infectious Foot Disease

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Copyright 1999-2001
New Bolton Center Field Service Department
Students:  Keith Javic - Class of 2003, C. Nikki Conroy - Class of 2003