Assessment of lameness prevalence and associated risk factors in dairy herds in England and Wales

Barker, Z E and Leach, K A and Whay, H R and Bell, N J and Main, D C J (2010) Assessment of lameness prevalence and associated risk factors in dairy herds in England and Wales. JOURNAL OF DAIRY SCIENCE, 93 (3). pp. 932-941.

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Abstract

Visits were made to 205 dairy farms in England and Wales between October 2006 and May 2007 by 1 or more of 4 researchers. At each visit, all milking cows were locomotion scored (lameness scored) using a 4-point scale (0 = sound locomotion, 1 = imperfect locomotion, 2 = lame, 3 = severely lame). The mean prevalence of lameness (scores 2 and 3) across the study farms was 36.8% (range = 0–79.2%). On each farm, the presence within the housing and grazing environments of commonly reported risks for increased lameness was recorded. Each farmer was interviewed to gauge the ability of the farm staff to detect and treat lameness. A multivariable linear regression model was fitted. Risk factors for increased lameness were the presence of damaged concrete in yards, cows pushing each other or turning sharply near the parlor entrance or exit, cattle grazing pasture also grazed by sheep, the use of automatic scrapers, not treating lame cows within 48 h of detection, and cows being housed for 61 d or longer at the time they were locomotion scored by the visiting researcher. Having a herd consisting entirely of a breed or breeds other than Holstein-Friesian was associated with a reduction in lameness prevalence compared with having a herd consisting entirely of Holstein-Friesians.