5 years ago

Producer estimates of prevalence and perceived importance of lameness in dairy herds with tiestalls, freestalls, and automated milking systems

Lameness is one of the most important welfare and productivity concerns in the dairy industry. Our objectives were to obtain producers' estimates of its prevalence and their perceptions of lameness, and to investigate how producers monitor lameness in tiestall (TS), freestall with milking parlor (FS), and automated milking system (AMS) herds. Forty focal cows per farm in 237 Canadian dairy herds were scored for lameness by trained researchers. On the same day, the producers completed a questionnaire. Mean herd-level prevalence of lameness estimated by producers was 9.0% (±0.9%; ±SE), whereas the researchers observed a mean prevalence of 22.2% (±0.9%). Correlation between producer- and researcher-estimated lameness prevalence was low (r = 0.19) and mean researcher prevalence was 1.6, 1.8, and 4.1 times higher in AMS, FS, and TS farms, respectively. A total of 48% of producers thought lameness was a moderate or major problem in their herds (TS = 34%; AMS =53%; FS = 59%). One third of producers considered lameness the highest ranked health problem they were trying to control, whereas two-thirds of producers (TS = 43%; AMS = 63%; FS = 71%) stated that they had made management changes to deal with lameness in the past 2 yr. Almost all producers (98%) stated they routinely check cows to identify new cases of lameness; however, 40% of producers did not keep records of lameness (AMS = 24%; FS = 23%; TS = 60%). A majority (69%) of producers treated lame cows themselves immediately after detection, whereas 13% relied on hoof-trimmer or veterinarians to plan treatment. Producers are aware of lameness as an issue in dairy herds and almost all monitor lameness as part of their daily routine. However, producers underestimate lameness prevalence, which highlights that lameness detection continues to be difficult in in all housing systems, especially in TS herds. Training to improve detection, record keeping, identification of farm-specific risk factors, and treatment planning for lame cows is likely to help decrease lameness prevalence.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0022030217309025

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