Lameness Recovery Rates
August 2023

Recently EpiVets published a study to describe the time it takes for lame dairy cows to recover after diagnosis and treatment of claw horn lameness, and to investigate whether cure rates differed between farms.

Five dairy farms in the Waikato region were enrolled over two seasons.  Lame cattle were diagnosed by the farmers if they had a lameness score (LS ≥ 2 on a 0–3 scale) and claw horn lesions. All enrolled animals were attended to by a single veterinarian following a consistent methodology, and then cows were lameness scored twice weekly until they were sound (LS = 0).

Overall, it took 18 (95% CI = 14–21) days for a lame cow to become sound. The study concluded that following industry best-practice lameness treatment guidelines, including frequent use of blocks, can result in rapid lameness cure rates in New Zealand dairy cows. How long cattle are lame for, before diagnosis and treatment (picking them up and paring them and putting blocks on) is an important predictor of how fast they recover. Therefore, the best way farmers can improve how fast their cattle recover is to diagnose and attend to lame cattle quickly. The best way to do this is likely regular lameness scoring as by the time you notice her being lame, she has likely been that way for a long time.