Tip of the Month September 2017

This month’s VAS DC305 Tip of the Month is on Lameness

Tulare, CA - 9 14 2017

Lameness can be the most costly disease on dairies, even more so than mastitis.  This is due to the high incidence of lameness on dairies.  It is not uncommon to find 30% yearly incidence or higher on dairies.  Yet Lameness is one of the least entered and tracked disease.  Lameness effects production, reproduction and how long the animals will be in the herd.  Lameness is often neglected because early symptoms are subtle and the cow’s natural instinct is to hide her discomfort.  This causes failure of early recognition and timely treatment.  DC305 has developed a system for recording and analyzing LAME and Foot trims. It standardizes LAME protocols and entry, and works cleanly with Pocket Trimmer.  This is the Lameness Manager.  

Using the Lameness Manager allows dairies to have a way to easily setup trim lists, recheck animals, add animals observed lame and be sure no animals are missed.  It then allows for quick and easy data entry of trim/lame results with the use of protocols.  Once this has been achieved, you can analyze the data showing lameness incidence, how many animals are being trimmed, if protocols are being followed and most important, help you discover why animals are becoming lame.  You can look at type of lesions, incidence by pen or lactation group, helping you narrow down possible causes of lameness.

One of the graphs that you will find in GUIDE in DC305 is one to see if you are trimming enough animals.  To figure out what your number of animals that should be trimmed, use this simple calculation and then see if what is being trimmed on the graph is enough.  (total herd size X(number trimmings each lactation + lameness risk + replacement rate))/12 months.  An example for a 3000 herd with 2 trims per lactation would be (3000 X(2 +.3 +.3))/12 = 650  So when this herd looks at the graph they should see at least 650 trimmed each month. (Fig1) You will see in my example the herd is trimming multiple times per month.  Also, be sure to notice the OPTIONS box in the upper right corner.  This will allow you to make changes to the graph and look at different lactation groups and date ranges.

It is also important to monitor the incidence and type of lesions.  This graph can also be found in GUIDE. (Fig2) This will help you see when there is an increase in incidence overall or a specific lesion.  By clicking on the checkmark by the TRIM ONLY you can eliminate trims from showing on the graph so you are only looking at lameness incidences. (Fig3) Now you can see months with higher incidence and that recently there are more hairy wart cases then in the past.  Again, there is an options box to make changes to the graph.  In Fig 4, I have taken a look at only 2nd and greater lactation animals.  We can see most of the lameness is in this lactation group and most of the hairy warts are in this group as well.  You can also exit GUIDE and see the command that is used for this graph in the activity screen.  If you double click on it, the command will go to the command line and you can make further changes to the command.  This is helpful if you are trying to pinpoint where a problem is happening.  Is it in a certain pen that injury is happening, or overall herd?  Looking at the graph in GUIDE that shows when the first lameness lesion happened, can also be helpful when find out the source of lameness and whether lameness is being monitored and found, or only being found on foot trim day.

Having complete and accurate records will assist in evaluating hoof care, reducing the lame incidence on the dairy and reducing economic lose due to lameness.


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