A Lame Vacation Makes for Lame Production

11:00AM Nov 11, 2019
DT Hoof Trimmer (Mooney)
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When you think of the word “vacation,” what comes to mind? Is it palm trees? A scenic mountain top view? Maybe just a fun few days spent away from the farm? 

No matter what your ideal vacation looks like, nobody wants to experience a lame one. In fact, the purpose of a vacation is to provide an extended period of leisure and recreation so you can come back to the farm rested and ready to work. The same can be said for cows. 

The dry period for a dairy cow should be considered an important phase of her lactation cycle and allows her time to prepare for her next calving. However, if a cow is experiencing lameness prior to dry off, she may be more likely to incur a rough transition back into the milking herd.

A recent study conducted by the University of British Columbia, published in the November issue of the Journal of Dairy Science, examined lame cows during dry off to see if they were more susceptible to transition diseases such as metritis, subclinical ketosis, retained fetal membranes, displaced abomasum or milk fever. 

Collecting records on nearly 500 animals, researchers recorded the body condition score of animals both before and after calving and documented their lameness status weekly. After calving, the animals were observed for signs of common transition diseases such as milk fever and subclinical ketosis.

Researchers determined that cows who were chronically lame and cows that had an increase proportion of weeks lame during the dry period had higher occurrence of metritis and other transition diseases. Lameness was also associated with reduced feeding time, which in turn was associated with increased likelihood of subclinical ketosis.

In conclusion, researchers suggest monitoring for lameness both before and during the dry off period to reduce the risk of transition diseases surfacing following calving. Prompt recognition and treatment of lameness not only saves the producer from future headaches, but it also gives these hardworking animals the proper vacation they deserve.

For more on lameness, read: