Common Mobility Problems

There are several common lameness conditions found in the dairy herd. It is important that herdspeople are able to distinguish between the various problems, even if a foot-trimming specialist is used on the farm or the farm vet routinely examines lame cows. Some conditions, such as digital dermatitis, may be due to infectious illness where prompt attention can easily control the potential spread of infection.

Knowledge transferred from other experienced herdspeople, livestock handlers, the farm vet, or a specialist foot trimmer is invaluable in gaining experience in identifying the possible conditions causing lameness. Reference material and the internet can also be used to diagnose problems, and foot trimming courses organised by training providers are particularly useful in identifying the common conditions and demonstrating how to effectively treat them.

Many foot conditions can be caused by a combination of several factors, but it is often possible to identify the major causes in many instances, particularly where the problem is particularly prevalent on a farm, such as where sole ulcers or heel horn erosion problems are experienced.

Sole ulcers, white line disease and digital dermatitis as recognised as 'the big three' mobility conditions seen on dairy farms in the UK, but there are several other common problems seen on a regular basis. Be aware that several different lesions and problems can be present on a single foot at any one time. More severe problems, involving deep joint infections and necrotic toes, for instance, must be dealt with by the vet.