Lameness is often an issue that is overlooked during the calving period, and affected calves can go undetected for quite some time – particularly in larger herds.

Although it can be difficult to keep on top of everything during this busy time, a focus should be placed on monitoring hoof health within your herd.

During the early spring, cows will potentially do a lot of walking to and from grass, which can have a negative impact on hoof health.


The aim within many herds will be to get cows out to grass shortly after they have calved. This will mean that on-off grazing will take place in the majority of cases.

This type of grazing or management practice does work well, but can be hard on cows – remember, these cows have just gone through a significant event in calving.

Something that is often overlooked during this period, is the hoof health of cows.

Bruising that occurs during housing could develop into a more serious issue if not detected early enough.

The most common issues within a grazing herd are ulcers, bruising and white line disease.

Cows that show signs of an issue need to be looked at as soon as it is detected, as performance and fertility may be affected.

It is important to remember that it is a tight window in which you are trying to get a cow cycling again and back in calf.

Issues during this period could have a significant impact on the fertility performance.

Locomotion scoring

A useful tool to help identify cases within a herd earlier is locomotion scoring, which assesses the movement of the cow to determine if there is a mobility or lameness issue.

Locomotion scoring is a five-point system (below) based on both gait and posture:

  1. Normal: The cow is not lame; the back is flat;
  2. Mildly lame: The back is slightly arched when walking;
  3. Moderately lame: The back is arched when both standing and walking. The cow walks with short strides in one or more legs;
  4. Lame: The lame cow can still bear some weight on the affected foot;
  5. Severely lame: The back is arched; the cow refuses to bear weight on the affected foot and remains recumbent.

Herd assessments should be done when the cows are walking on level, unobstructed walkways that give the observer a clear view.