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Overview of Lameness in Cattle


Paul R. Greenough

, FRCVS, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Last full review/revision Sep 2015 | Content last modified Sep 2015

The lesions that cause lameness in dairy cows result in intense pain and are a major animal welfare issue. Lameness also causes stress, which debilitates and reduces productivity. The financial impact of lameness includes losses from decreased production, cost of treatment, prolonged calving interval, and possibly nursing labor. Loss of milk of 1.7–3 L/day for up to 1 mo before and 1 mo after treatment (because of pain) plus milk discarded because of antibiotic therapy must also be considered. Lame cows are more reluctant to use automatic milking systems and show visible signs of stress when forced to do so.

At least 10% of cows in a herd are culled for reasons related to lameness. Rearing replacement heifers is expensive, and replacement animals are not initially as productive as mature cows. Cows in poor condition have a greater predisposition to lameness. Cows that are lame before breeding have a reduced ability to conceive, and cystic ovaries are much more common in lame cows. Lame cows are less aggressive in their struggle for feed and are more likely to die early or be culled.

Considerable funds are being invested in bovine lameness research; within the next decade, national databases detailing bovine lameness are expected to become increasingly available as a management tool. Although the lameness data are being collected primarily by hoof trimmers, veterinarians should be familiar with this information to continue to play a leading role in management of bovine lameness.

Lameness in Cattle
Overview of Lameness in Cattle
Physical Examination of a Lame Cow
Locomotion Scoring in Cattle
Computerized Recording of Digital Lesions in Cattle
Distal Digital Anesthesia for Diagnostic and Surgical Procedures in Cattle
Radiography in Cattle
Arthrocentesis and Arthroscopy in Cattle
Risk Factors Involved in Herd Lameness of Cattle
Footbaths of Cattle
Functional Claw Trimming of Cattle
Prevalent Lameness Disorders in Intensively Managed Herds of Cattle
Digital Dermatitis in Cattle
Pododermatitis Circumscripta in Cattle
White Line Disease in Cattle
Toe Necrosis Syndrome in Cattle
Sole Hemorrhage in Cattle
Thin Sole in Cattle
Heel Erosion in Cattle
Other Disorders of the Interdigital Space in Cattle
Interdigital Dermatitis in Cattle
Interdigital Phlegmon in Cattle
Interdigital Hyperplasia in Cattle
Disorders of the Horn Capsule and Corium in Cattle
Laminitis in Cattle
Double Sole in Cattle
Foreign Body in Sole of Cattle
Vertical Fissures in Cattle
Horizontal Fissures in Cattle
Corkscrew Claw in Cattle
Slipper Foot in Cattle
Disorders of the Bones and Joints in Cattle
Ankylosing Spondylosis in Cattle
Degenerative Arthropathy in Cattle
Coxofemoral Luxation in Cattle
Patellar Luxation in Cattle
Fetlock Dislocation in Cattle
Hip Dysplasia in Cattle
Fractures in Cattle
Septic Arthritis of the Distal Interphalangeal Joint in Cattle
Serous Tarsitis in Cattle
Neurologic Disorders Associated with Lameness or Gait Abnormalities in Cattle
Suprascapular Paralysis in Cattle
Radial Paralysis in Cattle
Ischiatic Paralysis in Cattle
Obturator Paralysis in Cattle
Femoral Paralysis in Cattle
Peroneal Paralysis in Cattle
Tibial Paralysis in Cattle
Spastic Syndrome in Cattle
Spastic Paresis in Cattle
Soft-tissue Disorders Causing Lameness in Cattle
Carpal Hygroma in Cattle
Rupture of the Gastrocnemius Muscle in Cattle
Rupture of the Peroneus Tertius Muscle in Cattle
Tarsal Cellulitis in Cattle
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Test your knowledge
The lameness examination is an important method to identify musculoskeletal abnormalities. Which of the following abnormalities is NOT observed during a physical and lameness exam? 
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