Lameness is detrimental to cow welfare. It also has a big negative impact on a cow’s fertility and reproductive efficiency.

In the video below, cattle hoof expert Sara Pedersen of Farm Dynamics explains how lameness negatively affects cow fertility. She outlines how you can reduce its prevalence in the herd. This is done by improving lameness detection so it can be treated sooner and is less severe. And secondly, by improving treatment protocols, e.g. using NSAIDs, to speed recovery.

Studies have shown lameness can result in: a 24-day delay from calving to first heat; it can delay calving to first service by between 3 and 17 days; delays in calving to conception of up to 70 days have been seen; plus lameness results in more services needed per conception and reduces pregnancy rates.

Early detection of lameness

Causes of lameness include digital dermatitis, sole ulcers, sole bruising and white line disease. The severity of the lameness case, and how long she has been lame, will determine how much her fertility is affected. In the presentation, results from trials which highlight the benefits of early lameness detection are also presented.

Was infertility due to lameness? 

The obvious costs of lameness are treatments and labour. Hidden costs include reduced cow fertility and increased culling. A cow may be culled for its failure to breed. But was its infertility actually a consequence of being lame?

CowAlert is an automated behaviour monitoring system. It monitors cows 24/7 and alerts farmers to early stage lameness. With earlier detection, farms can act sooner to safeguard cow welfare and protect profits.