Improving foot health on British dairy farms


  1. Conduct a long term, 3 year trial on a commercial farm to evaluate the impact of targeted treatment with anti-inflammatories on lameness
  2. Further our understanding of the digital cushion using MRI and investigate the impact of body condition score and lameness events on its structure and function to inform future best practice strategies
  3. Evaluate significant aspects of claw trimming technique in a randomised controlled clinical trial to inform best practice
Project code:
01 June 2016 - 31 May 2021
AHDB Dairy, University of Nottingham, SRUC
AHDB sector cost:
Total project value:
Project leader:
University of Nottingham & SRUC

About this project

Lameness is incredibly high in GB’s 1.55 million dairy cattle. As well as impacting on animal welfare and public perception of the dairy industry, lameness also significantly impacts production. Claw horn disruption lesions are the most common causes of lameness on many farms, but causes and prevention of these lesions are poorly understood. Previous work has shown that irreversible damage to the bone in the foot can occur and make an individual animal more susceptible to future lameness incidence. A risk factor in lameness is over-trimming, but there is relatively little up-to-date information available on best practice. This study will collate and evaluate current GB claw trimming practices to provide clear recommendations to on-farm foot trimmers conducting routine preventative trimming.


  • Evidence based best practice recommendation and guidelines on
    • the use of anti-inflammatories to reduce the risk of lameness
    • effective claw trimming techniques
  • From an economic standpoint, the industry could save millions of pounds per year by improving these best practice recommendations and reducing lameness incidence.
  • Vets, Healthy Feet Programme Mobility Mentors and other advisors will also be able to give better quality advice to their clients.
  • Improvement in foot health will strengthen welfare assurance for milk buyers, retailers and consumers. Reduced culling, improved fertility and milk yield will improve dairy efficiency, and reduces a dairy cow’s carbon footprint.