Professor Donna M. Amaral-Philips on lameness

Professor Donna M. Amaral-Philips on lameness

Cow hooves are not made for standing on concrete and other hard surfaces. Pressure lameness is very painful for cows and leads to many other possible diseases and infertility. It is killing for cows, and that has substantial consequences for dairy farmers.

Costs for the farmer

Donna M. Amaral-Phillips (Ph.D.) of the University of Kentucky says: “Besides being an animal welfare issue, a lame cow has been estimated to cost $185 for a first lactation cow and $333 for a mature cow when accounting for reductions seen in milk production and reproductive performance and increased risk of being culled from the herd.”

In her article on, she provides a great summary of the dynamics of lameness.

Hours spent resting

We have been working on lameness prevention for 20 years with CowSignals® insights and methods. And we have always advocated that cows need to rest as much as possible. In the media, we occasionally see discussions about resting time. One counterargument we sometimes hear is that a longer resting time is not always a sign of good health. While this is true, it does not contradict our views. Amaral-Philips explains why:

“Lame cows often change their lying behavior depending on the degree of lameness. Lame cows may increase the length of time of each lying bout and decrease the number of lying bouts per day. Scientists have hypothesized that this change in behavior stems from the reluctance of these cows to stand after lying down because it is painful to stand or lie down.”
So the big take home message is that on many dairy farms, cows should on average get more resting hours a day, divided over more separate lying bouts.

Lameness prevention

There are multiple ways to achieve this; every farm is different, every farm has strong and weak points in management. That is why we teach farmers, farm staff, and farm advisors to observe cows and farms in a structured way, and to look at the whole dairy management picture: housing, handling, feeding, et cetera. This way, instead of just detecting and treating lameness, we can learn to prevent it.

Do you want to prevent lameness as well? Check out our online courses CowSignals®, HoofSignals, and Stressfree Stockmanship.

Online courses

Comments (0)

No comments yet

New comment

Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Dutch Cookies

This website uses Cookies

Welcome to our website, where we hope to inspire and educate you. If you visit our website, you allow us to use cookies. We will use cookies for functional, analytical and marketing purposes. This will help us optimize your user experience.