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Epidemiology of lameness in dairy cows

By Zoe Elizabeth Barker

Abstract

Four visits were made to 50 dairy farms in England and Wales between February 2003 and February 2004 and a further three visits to 42 of these farms between February 2005 and February 2006. At each visit the locomotion of all cows was scored (15,597 cows, 34,643 measures). Multivariable regression analyses were preformed to identify risk factors associated with increased lameness (poor locomotion). Factors associated with mean herd poor locomotion were dry cows kept in straw yards compared with cubicle houses, pregnant heifers kept with milking cows compared with dry cows in winter, passage way widths <3m compared with 2:,3m, a kerb height of ~15cm compared with >15cm, routine trimming of claws ofall cows by a claw trimmer or by- the farmer compared with no routine claw trimming, feeding maize silage to milking cows compared with other forage types, and the use of automatic scrapers compared with tractor scrapers in the cubicle house. Farmers recorded the lesions they observed while treating lame cows. Sole ulcer, white line disease and digital dermatitis were the three most frequently recorded lesions. The occurrence of sole ulcer, white line disease or digital dermatitis compared with having no lesion was used as the outcome variable in three multilevel binomial logistic regression models with month from calving nested within cow nested within farm. Risk factors associated with increased risk of sole ulcer were being housed on sparse bedding for four months or more, having grooved concrete floors on ~e farm, large herd sizes and parity numbers of four and above. Risk factors associated with increased white line disease were grooved concrete floors increasing parity number. Risk factors associated with increased digital dermatitis were grooved concrete floors and large herd sizes. A large clinical trial was used to assess the effect of intervening on known risk factors associated with lameness. Farmers in the treatment group received farm specific recommendations grouped under five targets areas which reflected the hypothesised aetiologies of sole ulcer, white line disease and digital dermatitis. There were small reductions in locomotion score and sole ulcer rate on treatment farms compared with control. These suggested that the hypotheses that reduced standing time and encouraged increased lying time through improved cow comfort may reduce sole ulcer were, at least in part, correct. There was no clear effect of treatment on the rate white line disease and digital dermatitis. It is likely that more than one of the following factors explain the lack of significant results from these initial investigations; poor recognition oflameness by farmers, insufficient uptake of recommendations, predisposition to lameness from previous lameness event and insufficiently specific lesion definitions

Topics: SF, QH301
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:1117

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