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A new understanding of Lameness in Dairy Cows.  Open Seminar a success.

A new understanding of Lameness in Dairy Cows. Open Seminar a success.

Published: Friday, December 19, 2014
Category: Archive

Nutritionists, Dairy Consultants and Farmers were given a sneak peak into some new research unveiled for the first time by Professor Jon Huxley supporting an alternate position on the cause of lameness in dairy cows at a conference on hosted by the Pearce Group and UFAC at Rosedown Farm, Sherborne in Dorset on Thursday 27 November 2014.

Nutritionists, Dairy Consultants and Farmers were given a sneak peak into some new research unveiled for the first time by Professor Jon Huxley supporting an alternate position on the cause of lameness in dairy cows at a conference on hosted by the Pearce Group and UFAC at Rosedown Farm, Sherborne in Dorset on Thursday 27 November 2014. 

Professor Jon Huxley is a research veterinary clinician at the University of Nottingham specialising in the endemic diseases of dairy cattle, particularly lameness and the impact of the housed environment on animal health.  At the seminar entitled Improving Herd Performance & Efficiency with Science Based Nutrition, Professor Huxley presented findings from his paper Temporal associations between low body condition, lameness and milk yield in a UK dairy herd (Jan 2014 Green, Huxley, Banks, Green).    Supported by findings from 2 other studies, and drawing on work which will be published in the Spring of 2015,  a new understanding of lameness in dairy cattle and its causes was put forward. This was the first public forum that this body of work had been presented.

With approximately 36% of dairy cows in the UK presenting signs of lameness on any given day, lameness is a hidden issue within the dairy industry that is costing the UK dairy industry millions each year.  Professor Huxley posed the question to the audience that although it is well known that lame cows become thin “Do thin cows become lame”?  This juxtaposition is a summarised version of his hypotheses, and findings so far from the three trials conducted indicate that cows that presented clinical signs of lameness, (Claw Horn Lesions, Sole Ulcers/Haemorrhages) were more likely to have had low body condition score (BCS of approximately 2 or less),  prior to the onset of lameness.

It is likely that the root cause of the lameness in the lower BCS cows is due to fat loss from the digital cushion in the hoof, thereby reducing the ability of the cushion to absorb the shock/weight of the cow as they walk.  Whilst not the only factor causing lameness this new research suggests that body condition is a key factor in the onset of lameness and that thin (lower BCS) cows have a higher likelihood of becoming lame. The work suggests managing dairy cow nutrition carefully to limit BCS loss to peak yield is likely to reduce cases of lameness.

The second of the Speakers was Dr Brian Vernon who is recognised as a leading nutritional expert in dairy, pigs, horses and elephants.  Brian’s presentation drew on his experience of over 30 years in animal nutrition and gave insight into the role of nutrition on milk production and quality parameters.  With the modern genetics, high milk yield requires that the rumen must work as close to 100% as possible.  Failure here means that changes in body tissue levels pre and post have a major influence on both body maintenance requirements and tissue components (balance between fat and muscle mass).  The latter two will require a close review of feeding regimes and diet specifications to not only optimise rumen function but to also fulfil the “much overlooked” bypass energy and bypass protein supplies and sources. 

Dr Vernon’s presentation echoed the message of maintaining body condition on dairy cows pre servicing and minimalising body condition loss post partum to ensure herd health but also to manage calving indexes and conception rates. This change in BCS has a major influence on herd health, replacement rates, calving indexes and conception rates: factors that are as equally important to that of optimising milk yield and quality for maximised net farm profitability.

The seminar was hosted by Pearce Seeds as part of their ongoing support of dairy industry, as they continue to develop the Dairy Health and Hygiene side of the business which they diversified into in 2013.

The event was kindly sponsored by UFAC (UK) LTD whose major focus is supplying a range of bypass high energy & protein products, with different inclusions of essential fatty acids, C16’s,  EPA & DHA from marine oil  and glycerine, in a dry friable meal form to meet all customer requirements.

Article by Andrew Clune.

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Pearce Seeds LLP
Rosedown Farm
Marston Road
Sherborne
Dorset
DT9 4SX


Tel: 01935 811 400
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Email: info@pearceseeds.co.uk