A Case-Study of Lameness in 3 Dairy Herds

By Morris, R. S. and Tranter, W. P., New Zealand Veterinary Journal, 1991
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All cases of lameness that occurred in cows from three dairy herds between August 1989 and July 1990 were examined every 2 weeks from the onset of lameness until the lesions resolved. The incidences of herd lameness were 38%, 22% and 2%. Some 186 clinical lesions were identified in 134 cases of lameness in 120 cows. Sole bruising (42%) and white line separation (39%) were the most frequently diagnosed conditions. Lateral digits of the hind limbs were the most affected. The mean time from the onset of lameness to clinical recovery was 27 days and to lesion recovery was 35 days. The peak incidence of lameness occurred during winter for autumn-calving cows and during the late spring for spring-calving cows. The onset of lameness was associated with the stage of lactation and wet weather conditions. Survival analysis revealed that the probability of an individual cow lasting in the milking herd for any specified period of time without becoming lame was highly associated with both her herd environment and her age. Total lactation yields of milk, milk fat and milk protein were lower for cows suffering from lameness than for herd-mates matched on age and proximity of calving date (p < 0.05). Reproductive performance was also poorer in lame cows than in their herd-mates.
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