Dairy industry struggling to win lameness battle

The dairy industry is struggling to win the fight against lameness, according to two-thirds of FWi users who took part in a poll and forum debate.

Veterinary surgeon Matt Dobbs of the UK-wide farm specialist practice Westpoint Vets said that while the industry was making progress, it was slow.

“One in three dairy cows are still lame. I’m hoping the problem is not getting worse, but I believe every farm should set an achievable target of less than 20% of the herd with a mobility score two or three, at one time,” said Mr Dobbs.

He blamed poor knowledge transfer as the main reasons for the lack of improvement.

“Researchers have no time or inclination to disseminate their findings to the wider community.

“I’d like to see more requirements for this information to be dispersed at least part-way down the chain – be it to vets, consultants or foot trimmers – so they can then pass the information on to farmers.”

Better knowledge transfer has been one of the drivers for improved lameness incidence in the USA, where farmers have been able to adopt research solutions in cow comfort and flow. Consequently total lameness is much lower than in the UK.

Mr Dobbs recognised that much was being done by DairyCo and the industry to address the problem, but there was still room for improvement from the whole industry.

From the Forums

Saying you don’t have the time or the money to prevent lameness is a poor excuse, I for one certainly don’t have the time or money to be culling cows which can’t walk or grow or rear a calf.Gulli

Combating lameness is a must and not something to be sniffed at. Putting measures in place such as a foot bath have paid dividends on my farm. I’ve set a target of 100% of cows with perfect locomotion – why should I accept something that’s costing me money?Rossymons

Margins are tight enough as it is. Where are we supposed to magic up money to fight lameness? Have you seen the price of cake and silage?Paris

We asked:

Do you think the dairy industry is winning the fight against lameness?

No 65%

Yes 35%

Have your say here

Read our special feature on lameness in cattle here

See more