Incidence of lameness varies between herds and varies during the season. Smaller herds still have an incidence of 10% lame cows in the herd, larger herds often show higher incidences: up to 30%. Wet periods will boost the number of clinically lame cows, due to gravel being pushed into existing white line defects, softening of claw horn and washed out races.
Lameness is an animal welfare problem. The public and overseas markets nowadays are more sensitive about these issues than they have been in the past.
Lameness is a sometimes huge cost to the farm system, due to loss of production, treatment costs and culling costs.
Costs of lameness on a farm are difficult to quantify accurately, but vary due to stage of lactation, type of lameness and effectiveness of treatment.
To understand a lameness problem it is important to identify the predominant lesion or lesions. Each type of lesion has a different set of sources. Recording lesions when treating lame cows is the first step to identify the problem.
In a study done by Neil Chesterton and presented during one of our dairy seminars he found the following incidences:
- White-line injury 38%
- Sole injury 28%
- Inter-digital cracks 14%
- Foot-rot 9%
- Sole ulcer 1%
- Miscellaneous 10%
Patterns of incidence vary between farms, due to farm conditions, nutrition, handling of animals etc.
Principles of treatment are to remove all under-run sole and/or wall and thin out the sole and/or trim the wall in order to prevent gravel getting trapped in the lesion. Transferring weight bearing away to the healthy claw, by gluing a cow slip to the healthy claw will hugely improve mobility and animal welfare. Mobile cows can graze with the main herd, improving nutrition of those cows and maintaining production levels.
Lameness studies have shown that there are two main issues: track maintenance and the way animals are handled on the track and going into the shed. More lameness occurs in cows that are in rear group on the track and in cows that are in the rear group in the shed.
Sole injuries (bruising) are linked to long tracks, abrasive surface on tracks, gravel on concrete in the yards and to pushing cows to the yards. Walking cows need to be able to see where they place their front feet. In a normal gait their back feet will step in on the same spot where they placed their front feet.
White-line injuries are linked to pressure on the tracks and pressure in the yards. The white line which connects wall horn with sole horn is a weak spot. When cows are pushed around cracks will occur which in due time will fill up with gravel, causing lameness. Patient handling of cows on tracks and in the yards will result in fewer white line injuries and less clinical lameness down the road. Staff needs to be aware of a few rules about when to use backing gates, at what speed and for how long. If “heads are up” in the yards, pressure on the cows is too high.
Preventing lameness is a great subject for staff training.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: The start of the milking season is an eventful time for dairy cows. Returning from grazing, transition from a dry cow diet to a fresh cow production diet, calving and start of production are all risk factors. Feed conditions at the start of lactation are often difficult, grass quality can be low, available pasture can be low, weather can be adverse etc. In the mean time we expect our cows to produce milk, to peak at an acceptable level and to get pregnant as soon as possible after our planned Start of Mating.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Endometritis is a low-grade infection of the lining of the uterus that affects fertility and increases the period from calving to conception if a cow is infected. Most cows become infected around calving time. Treatment should be aimed at restoring fertility.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Non-cycling cows are cows that have not yet shown a heat at the planned start of mating. They occur for a wide variety of reasons including low body condition, endometritis, lameness etc.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Dairy production systems are changing from the traditional NZ all grass, seasonal systems to more supplement based, often split-calving systems. Dairy nutrition is a complicated process and a lot of research is done all over the world to optimize the way we feed our dairy cows.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Be vigilant with young dairy stock at this time of the year to ensure they have adequate feeding and parasite control in place.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Velvet antler removal is defined as a "controlled surgical procedure" under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. This means the procedure can only be performed by, or under the direct supervision of, a veterinarian.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: In what has become a regular feature of our May calendar, we host a group of final year Massey University vet students here who are doing a Special Interest Topic in deer.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: NZ has just one species of tick and luckily it doesn't carry any major diseases. However, we are seeing increasingly more properties with tick problems, especially deer farms.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: For those of you that subscribe to the AgLetter - I refer you to the excellent article of the 3rd July issue. As usual Chris Garland and his team get the "good noise" on issues and present excellent information to the industry. This article reviewed the practice of using Long Acting (LA) treatments in ewes pre lamb and my comments are as follows (you will need to read the article first).
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Lice infestation in sheep is primarily caused by the biting louse Bovicola Ovis.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Teaser rams are entire rams that have been vasectomised. They have both testes still so they are keen to do the job but the operation has rendered them infertile - permanently. They are used to encourage ewes to begin oestrus activity in autumn and if used correctly the teaser rams can get this oestrus activity very well synchronized. This has some big positives - read on.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: The Cause: A protozoal parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, causing 20-30% of ewe abortions in this country.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: The Cause: The bacterium, Campylobacter fetus. Formerly known as "vibrio".
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: One of the tools in the parasite battle toolbox is the concept of "refugia". It goes against a farmer's natural instinct to kill every parasite because it means deliberately leaving 5-10% of each mob undrenched. This is done to maintain parasites susceptible to drenches because they've never been exposed.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Dogs have an interesting reproductive cycle, rather different to most domestic animals that cycle either seasonally or throughout the year. In the domestic canine, females cycle more or less every six months, with larger breeds tending to cycle less frequently - sometimes only once a year.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Eukanuba Adult Large Breed Premium Performance Formula. Recommended for large and giant breed adult dogs weighing 25kg or more.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: With the current surge in interest in equine dentistry, more than a few myths have crept into popular belief. Find out more.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Spring and early summer are the high risk periods for pasture - induced laminitis, so this is a timely reminder of what this disease is and how you can avoid it.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: There have been some statements regarding vaccination in dogs (and Dobermans in particular) floating around the internet for some time now which in my opinion are a cause for concern. Vaccination of dogs is done for one reason only - to protect the health of the animal by providing it with immunity against certain very serious diseases.