Impact of Lameness on Production and Intake in Holstein Cows

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2014-01-01
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Shonka, Brittany
Spurlock, Diane
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Lameness is a critical issue to the dairy industry due to animal welfare and economic concerns. Daily milk production and dry matter intake (DMI) were monitored in 400 Holstein cows, including 51 that experienced at least one occurrence of lameness. Milk production and DMI decreased by approximately 10.3% and 13.2%, respectively, at the time of treatment for lameness, relative to production and intake levels two weeks prior to treatment. However, both production and DMI returned to pre-treatment levels two weeks after treatment. These results demonstrate that lameness can have a significant impact on milk production, and therefore economic returns to a dairy farm. The results also demonstrate the importance of early treatment for lameness, because cows fully recovered within two weeks of treatment. Finally, managing lame cows to encourage feed intake may help alleviate declines in milk production associated with lameness.

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Animal Science
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