Report Synopsis

Reducing Lameness in Dairy Cows

Maeve O'Keeffe

Since the abolition of milk quotas in Ireland at the end of March 2015, dairy cow numbers have increased significantly. From the beginning of 2015 to 2020 cow numbers will have grown by 24%, to reach 1.395 million by 2020. Ireland has had the largest percentage growth in milk output in the EU, with milk output grow increased by 27% in the 3 years since quotas ended, according to CSO data. With growing herd sizes, cows are now walking further to the milking parlour. This has resulted in an increase in the incidents and costs of lameness on Irish dairy farms.

Lameness in dairy cows is a multi-factorial problem and can be caused by bacteria, environment or husbandry. A lame cow can defined as ‘a cow with any abnormality which causes a cow to change the way she walks’.

The main objectives of this report is to find out how much lame cows are costing dairy farmers, identify what the primary causes of lameness are, and then look at ways to reduce lameness from both farm level and at an industry level.

  1. The cost of lameness
  2. Primary causes of lameness
  3. How to reduce lameness at farm level
  4. How can we reduce lameness at an industry level

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