Veterinary Extension Program Activities and Accomplishments:Lameness and Welfare of Cattle

  • Jan K. Shearer (Iowa State University)


In the dairy industry, prevalence of lameness averages somewhere between 20-25% with much higher rates reported in problem herds. Direct effects of lameness are responsible for approximately 15% of cows involuntarily culled from dairy herds. However, when the indirect effects of lameness on milk yield and reproductive performance are considered, involuntary losses associated with impaired locomotion are estimated to increase by an additional 50%. Lameness is therefore recognized as the single most costly clinical disease of dairy cattle (Guard, 2009).

The Master Hoof Care Program (now in its 17th year) was designed to address lameness problems on dairies by assuring that foot care technicians are properly trained and equipped to handle common lameness disorders. Over the previous 12 month period, we have conducted multiple training programs (under the heading of the ISU Master Hoof Care Program) on foot care and claw trimming to trimmers and dairy farm managers throughout the United States. The format of these programs consists of approximately a half day of classroom and 1 to 2 days of claw trimming on cadavers and live animals. All training programs are conducted in both English and Spanish and intended to address the needs of the dairy industry’s multicultural workforce. Since large dairies with multiple farm units may have as many as 5 to 10 people serving the foot care needs of the enterprise, on-farm training of foot care technicians may be conducted at the farm of origin with lameness disorders and equipment unique to their workers.

Demand for these programs in Iowa has been limited in part because most trimming and foot care is conducted by veterinarians and trimmers. While it is anticipated that this may change as herds get larger, for now the greater need and opportunity lies with the feedyard industry as conditions such as digital dermatitis are becoming major causes of lameness.

Keywords: ASL R2785

How to Cite:

Shearer, J. K., (2013) “Veterinary Extension Program Activities and Accomplishments:Lameness and Welfare of Cattle”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 10(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/ans_air-180814-906

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Published on
01 Jan 2013
Peer Reviewed