Healthy feet - healthy cows

Date published: 10 April 2018


Demonstration of mobility scoring.

Lameness in dairy cows is a welfare issue as a lame cow is suffering pain.

The average cost of a case of lameness is £323, which includes production losses such as cows producing less milk (200-600 litres), increased time to get in calf (20-40 days) and an increased risk of being culled. Furthermore, with the grazing season approaching cows need good mobility to get to and from fields.

Early detection of lameness is vital

The first step is detecting lame cows early, with one such method being mobility scoring. Mobility scoring is a system whereby cows are scored on a scale of 0-3 based on their mobility, with 0 being good and 3 being a severely lame cow. The aim, when scoring your herd is to focus on identifying cows scoring 2 (moderately lame) or 3 (severely lame) and prioritise these cows for treatment as soon as possible.

Research has clearly shown that using mobility scoring, where moderately lame cows are detected early and treated, these animals will have less severe foot diseases along with improved recovery rates. It is important to remember, generally cows don’t go from being non lame (0-1) to severely lame (3) immediately, they will be moderately lame, mobility score 2 for a period. This allows you to take action and treat the cow before any further deterioration.

Business Development Groups

Within CAFRE Business Development Groups (BDGs) a number of discussions have focussed on mobility improvement. As a result, host farmers had the opportunity to have their milking herds mobility scored to determine a herd mobility index i.e. herd target of 80% non-lame. Across all herds the average mobility index was 82%, with a proportion achieving over 90%. When specific management practices are put in place this should lead to improvements in herd mobility.

Two key strategies to manage lameness are:

1) Early detection and prompt treatment

  • Identify lame cows via mobility scoring
  • Promptly treat cows before they are severely lame
  • Make a record of the cow and hoof disease
  • Follow up if required

2) Prevention

  • Use preventative foot trimming at key times during lactation
  • Footbath the entire herd regularly, including dry cows
  • Ensure good cow comfort, hygiene within cow buildings and maintenance of cow lanes

Notes to editors: 

  1. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook
  2. All media enquiries to DAERA Press Office or tel: 028 9052 4619.

Share this page

Back to top