Lameness Risk Factors in Robot Herds

By Steve Mason on

Results of a study of 36 herds with automated milking systems in Québec, Ontario, Alberta and Michigan identified some of the main risk factors for lameness in those herds. The authors of the study conclude that, for the prevention of lameness, more attention needs to be be paid to providing free stalls of appropriate size for the cows in the herd.

Sand Bedded Cows

How High-Producing Herds Handle Lameness

By Peggy Coffeen on

According to Dr. Nigel Cook, achieving a high level of herd performance and controlling lameness go hand-in-hand.
“You cannot manage your herd successfully unless you manage lameness,” he said. “It undermines everything you try to do. It impacts the way the cow behaves, the way she walks, the way she eats, the way she rests. It impacts reproduction and increases the risk for early removal.”
In a survey of 22 intensively managed, high-producing commercial dairies in Wisconsin, Cook compared lameness prevalence to that of cows kept primarily on pasture.

Cows perched in free stalls

Moving the Neck Rail Helps Lame Cows Recover

By Steve Mason on

A study at the University of BC showed how neck rail placement affects cows’ ability to stand in their stalls. The closer the neck rail was to the rear curb, the more time cows spent standing with only the front hooves in the stall and the less time they were able to stand with all 4 hooves in the stall. When cows were housed with the neck rails at 190 cm, gait score improved; at 130 cm, gait score worsened.

Cows on pasture

Pasture Access Reduces Lameness

By Steve Mason on

Pasture rearing can improve hoof health, perhaps due to the change in the physical environment or to associated factors such as change in diet. Fewer cows become lame during the grazing season and cows kept outdoors are less prone to claw disorders than those that are housed indoors. Despite these advantages in hoof health, switching from indoor housing to pasture is not a practical option for many producers. But providing a rest period on pasture for lame cows may be a more practical option.