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Lameness and pregnancy in friesian dairy cows

British Veterinary Journal
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0007-1935(88)90114-5
  • Medicine


Abstract Lameness is a major problem which affects a large proportion of the British dairy industry and costs several millions of pounds sterling each year. Several authors have found a strong association between the incidence of lameness and the period around calving, suggesting that this is a time of high risk. It has been stated that changes in hoof loading with pregnancy may predispose animals to foot problems. Since lameness most commonly affects the hind digits, changes in load distribution and increases in pressure were investigated. A combined force-plate and pedobaroscope was applied in the studies of gaits of pregnant and post-partum animals. During late pregnancy the load distribution between feet was not changed. The fore hooves always carried significantly greater loads than the hind hooves. In general any significant differences in load, hoof-ground contact area and pressure were between front and back digits rather than those of contralateral hooves. The reported higher incidence of hoof injury and lameness on the hind hooves cannot be associated with load redistribution during pregnancy. It may be that the rapid changes in load and pressure, along with other factors such as behavioural, metabolic, nutritional and housing changes around the time of calving predispose the cows to lameness.

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