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The Importance Of Lameness

1 February 2017

Generally lameness is considered just a major problem in the dairy industry where surveys show around 25 – 35% of cows are considered lame at any one time!  However lameness is not uncommon in beef herds and is often given as a reason for culling both cows and bulls.

Numerous research programmes in dairy cows clearly show that lameness causes cows –

  • To spend less time standing and more time lying. (Spending more time lying down is a major cause of infertility in bulls due to their testicles being unable to cool.)
  • Don’t eat as much, taking fewer but bigger feeds. (This is a bigger problem in beef herds where feed is often restricted eg cows being given limited silage and having to top up on straw.)  They also eat more rapidly, spending less time selecting out the “best bits”.
  • Get lean.
  • Are less fertile, less likely to stand for the bull and more likely to be barren.
  • Are more likely to suffer from bone problems, misalignment etc and be culled earlier, in poorer condition and at a lower price.

So next time you are walking stock over hard ground eg concrete pay attention to how well they walk/move and how many have poor feet.  My guess is you will be disappointingly surprised!

Basil Lowman,

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