How to boost cow performance by picking up marginally lame cows

Dairy farmers failing to pick up marginally lame cows when locomotion scoring are losing 4% of milk a cow.

But by picking up on cows at locomotion score three before “they slip further off the cliff” farmers can help to improve recovery times, milk production and fertility.

Score three cows are ones that display a curved back when they stand and when they walk, explained Michael Bain, from Zinpro.

He said a total of 65% of 289 US dairy farmers surveyed said foot health was the biggest factor limiting yield.

But further studies showed lameness prevalence is often two times higher than initially perceived.

Mr Bain said pressure constraints meant many farmers were missing these “most important cows”, adding: “I don’t know many people who would present these cows to be foot trimmed.”

As a result Mr Bain said “a lot of money was being left on the table”.

It is estimated that every cow at condition score three loses 4% of milk production (see table).

Lameness also predisposes cows to other diseases such as mastitis and fertility problems (see table).

Mr Bain said locomotion scoring was an effective tool that farmers should use to assess lameness prevalence and severity within the herd.

“By actively looking for score three cows you can significantly improve the profit of your herd.

“By doing a routine trim she will be more likely to be at score two within one month’s time.

“So you will save the difference in milk loss between score two (2%) and score four (9%) – that’s 7% in total.”

To find out more on locomotion scoring and to calculate your increased revenue potential, visit

See more