Vet advises farmers to ‘carefully manage cattle lameness’

As cattle are being housed for the winter period, farmers are advised to carefully manage lameness within the herd.

Cattle lameness has been identified as a key consideration within Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC)’s Stoc+ Project, which aims to support farmers in Wales to work closely with their vets on pro-active animal health planning.

Lameness can cause a reduction in liveweight gain, feed intake, milk production and also have a poor effect on fertility and calf viability.

Claire Jones of Dolgellau Veterinary Practice is a Vet Ambassador for the Stoc+ project and has given advice on how to carefully manage lameness.

Jones explained:

“Heading into the housing period there are management and environmental factors farmers can take into consideration to help reduce the incidence of lameness in the herd.

Consider cow comfort: Do the cattle have adequate lying space, stocking density, feeding space, turning and drinking areas? Additionally, housing cleanliness and biosecurity are key factors in reducing the spread of infectious lameness such as digital dermatitis.

Non-infectious causes of lameness can often be managed through changes in the cow’s environment, such as white line disease and sole ulcers which can occur through turning or pushing behaviour on hard surfaces as well as loose stones or uneven surfaces.

‘Crucial to eliminate any bottlenecks’

Jones continued:

“It is crucial to eliminate any bottlenecks in your cattle housing and environment that may predispose beef cattle to lameness.

It is vital that housed cattle are rationed correctly and are in good health to ensure good hoof quality and a responsive immune system.

Lowri Williams, HCC Flock and Herd Health Officer, said:

“The Stoc+ work has shown that minimising lameness is a key priority on many beef farms in Wales.

“Farmers who would like further advice on how to identify and treat the causes of lameness in the herd should speak to the farm vet, a foot trimmer or a qualified consultant.”