Lameness in dairy cows

From identifying lesions to treatment and nutrition, our information and resources can help you to manage all aspects of lameness.

Around one quarter of all dairy cows may be experiencing some degree of lameness at any one time. The average cost of an incidence of lameness, in terms of treatment costs, loss of yield and potential for shortened productive life of the cow may be in the region of £180, which at current levels equates to nearly £15,000 for an average-sized herd. The general causes of lameness are:

  • poor quality floors in cattle housing
  • poor cow tracks
  • cows being forced to stand for too long on hard surfaces
  • poorly-designed cubicles
  • ineffective foot trimming
  • infectious diseases and poor nutrition

Good record-keeping and effective recognition of the problems can help in determining suitable strategies for reducing future mobility problems specific to individual herds.

Identifying lesions

Recognising why your cows are lame is important for their treatment, as well as preventing it in the future. Our photographs and descriptions can help you to identify lesions that cause lameness and check your herd’s foot health.

Lesions of cows' feet

Mobility scoring

The mobility score of your herd shows you how many cows are lame at any one time. This allows you to more effectively manage your control plan and treatment.

Find out more about mobility scoring

Foot trimming

Regularly checking your cows’ feet and monitoring horn conformation will allow you to properly manage horn growth and prevent lameness. Many non-infectious causes of lameness are treated using a combination of foot trimming and blocking, so it is important to know how to manage this.

Read more about foot trimming

Treating lame cows

Lameness does not resolve itself and the faster you intervene, the sooner the animal recovers. Quick treatment can also prevent damage occurring deep within the foot, which protects against lameness in the future.

Find out how to treat your herd

Healthy Feet Programme

The Healthy Feet Programme (HFP) can help you reduce lameness on your farm by identifying and applying the right solutions. It will help you diagnose the problems, devise an action plan and develop the skills needed for long-term lameness control.

Find out about the Healthy Feet Programme

Lameness publications

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