Lameness is a significant animal welfare concern. Poor farm facilities have been identified as a major cause of lameness in dairy cows. The development of lameness is mainly as a result of poor maintenance of farm roadways, inadequate housing and underfoot conditions in over-winter housing.
Correct hoof trimming is of primary importance in the treatment of claw lesions. This is occasionally supplemented with antibiotic therapy following veterinary surgeon examination. Use of footbaths is necessary in the control of the interdigital conditions, heel horn erosion and Mortellaro.
The most common problems associated with lameness include:
- Small cubicles, overcrowding and inadequate nutrition.
- Cows housed in space-sharing cubicles, provided with good bedding (mats or sawdust)
- Cows which have increased lying times and better claw health.
- Feeding high levels of concentrate may increase the incidence of lameness in dairy cows.
- Increasing the fibre content of the concentrate helped protect against lameness.
An issue to be considered in a lameness preventive programme should include genetics. Poor maintenance of farm roadways (especially the road surface) is the main cause of lameness outdoors.