26 March 1999

Lameness checklist may cut incidence

A CHECKLIST for lameness similar to that used for mastitis control could help reduce incidence, according to Dumfries milk producer Stewart Jamieson.

His two dairy herds, totalling 300 cows, differ in their lameness incidence and he is not yet comfortable with lameness control, especially in one of the herds, he told delegates.

One herd treated 23 cows for lameness and the other 58 cows, with about half the 58 cows suffering digital dermatitis.

Digital dermatitis is far more common in the herd on slats, where cows feet remained cleaner, which is difficult to explain, he said.

The herd with higher incidence culled 15 cows in a year for lameness; double the other herd. Staff also spent an hour a week longer treating cows feet in the worst affected herd totalling3.5 hours.

He believed that the individual treating cows feet, cubicle comfort, training heifers to use cubicles, diet, straw yards for cows prior to calving, flooring and breeding all had an impact on lameness incidence.

Dr Jamieson has developed his own seven-point plan for lameness control. He believes it could help reduce lameness incidence in his and other herds.

His seven points are:

&#8226 An annual assessment of lameness by the vet or contractor who would also carry out locomotion scoring.

&#8226 Access to a good foot crush in a well lit area.

&#8226 Prompt treatment of clinical cases.

&#8226 Routine foot examinations at drying off.

&#8226 Footbaths for controlling infection or hardening feet.

&#8226 Assessing cubicle comfort.

&#8226 Making dietary and environment changes gradually.

TAKE-AWAYMESSAGES

&#8226 Dick Esslemont: Keep records to prove husbandry standards to milk buyers.

&#8226 Helen Whay: Have a close look at the prevalence of lameness on your farm and discuss it with your vet.

&#8226 John Webster: Keep heifers and cows out of cubicles for four weeks before and after calving to reduce lameness risks.

&#8226 Roger Blowey: Maximise cow comfort whether in cubicles or straw yards.

&#8226 Stewart Jamieson: Lift cows feet at least once a year and record treatment of clinical cases.

&#8226 David Logue: Think about the level of challenge and most cost effective measures possible to solve the problem.