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Economic Impact of Lameness
Lameness is the most costly illness on dairy farms. Dr. Jan Shearer from Iowa State University discusses the economic impact of lameness on dairy farms.
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Good afternoon everyone.
Welcome to the Dairy Profitability webinar series.
We are kicking off this series talking about
the economic impact of lameness.
We are pleased that Dr. Jan Shearer is here with us today
to talk about lameness and its economic impact.
My name is Kim Clark.
I am a dairy extension educator here at
the University of Nebraska Lincoln.
Sitting next to me I have Hannah, who is an undergraduate
student with an interest in dairy extension.
She is doing an internship with me this year as well.
Dr. Shearer is at Iowa State University.
His main interest is lameness and welfare of animals.
Dr. Shearer established the master hoof care program,
which has acquired international prominence
for its positive impact on hoof health on dairies.
I'll turn it over to Dr. Shearer.
Again, before Dr. Shearer starts, everyone is muted.
So feel free to type your questions in the chat.
This webinar is being recorded
and so we'll have it online for playback later.
In the chat I will post the link for
the website that you can find the recording.
Great, thank you very much Kim and Hannah,
who put this together.
It's a pleasure to visit with you today about this issue.
It's I think critically important and I think often times
misunderstood, the significance of lameness
as it impacts our economic
bottom line, let's say, in the dairy industry,
because it is really significant issue.
It's a very, very complicated one in the sense that
there are a multitude of issues that we deal with
that can cause this lameness disorders.
Here you see just a variety of different claw disorders
and infectious skin disorders of the foot
and also in the lower left, the cow that is obviously
got an upper leg disorder there from a slipping
and possibly luxating on both hips.
This is not an uncommon thing to happen around the time
of calving, when animals get on slippery surfaces,
when they may be a little weaker,
possibly from milk fever or some other issue.
The point is is that there are a whole host of issues
that can cause us problems with respect
to locomotion and lameness.
So we're gonna just touch on a few of these today and look
more carefully at the impact on the economics of it.
I think first of all though, maybe let's just quickly
review those conditions that are most apt to cause
these problems and often times these are disorders
of the hoof or the digit or the claw.
Those are most commonly sole ulcers.
We can also have heel and toe ulcers.
White line disease is another common disorder
that causes abscess type problems in the hoof or the claw.
Then we have traumatic lesions of the sole that can occur
from, in some cases, an animal stepping on something sharp
on the floor that causes a puncture in the sole,
foreign bodies that make contact with a sore or deeper
tissues within the foot and the corium,
the part that actually forms the hoof wall itself.
Then we can get breaks in the sole that may occur
as a consequence of excessive wear, such as toe ulcers
and one in particular that we deal with in large herds
from excessive, maybe excessive distance
and excessive wear on feet
from walking long distances, a thin sole toe ulcer.
So these are all very common disorders that we deal with
and they are very, very debilitating because of the nature
of the conditions that they cause in feet.
Another one, I apologize,
here but if there folks in the audience who
speak Spanish, we're looking here at ulcers in the sole
or in Spanish, (speaking in foreign language).
On the other side here, on the right side,
we're looking at white line disease or
(speaking in foreign language) and we're looking at
two conditions here that are extremely common.
We look, for instance, at the ones on the left here,
the ulcers in the sole, they typically occur in the location
that you see right here.
This is the natural, normal location for these to occur.
These are very debilitating, particularly when they become
These are very, very important lesions in cattle
and very common causes of lameness.
Then the white line condition can also be extremely
important to us as well.
We quite often times will find these for sure develop
into abscess formation within the claw or beneath the sole
or beneath the wall in some cases,
depending on where they occur.
They become also, extremely debilitating types of lameness.
This is a puncture in the sole that we're seeing right
here that is not in the white line.
The white line is really out here in this outer edge.
This is really the white line where a lot of our
conditions occur in claws, but if you notice,
this is a puncture that's just inside that region.
It's important when we're looking at these,
to kind of try to decide, is this a puncture in the sole,
is this a condition that's occurring in the white line.
Because the white line tends to be a common source
for problems because it is softer hoof horn
and it's more easily damaged and invaded by organic matter.
So that's normally where a lot of these conditions occur.
This is an example then, of a traumatic kind of a lesion,
where an animal has stepped on something sharp.
Quite often times, it's a case where they step on a nail
or in many cases, where rubber has come up
that's been nailed down to the floor.
They step on the remnant of that nail that still protrudes
up through the cement or through the floor.
That can cause some very serious types
of lesions in the sole.
We can also find at times,
a variety of other types of conditions.
In the upper left we see a screw that's up into the axial
or the inner claw wall.
Those can be very, very debilitating and very, very
painful of course, and cause some pretty serious lesions,
particularly when they're real deep within the claw.
Down in the lower left there we see
a tooth that's actually embedded in the sole here
and this is not uncommon.
Animals in their first lactation will quite often times
still be losing some of these molars.
When that happens, those can end up and find their way
to the foot as well.
Here we have a hypodermic needle here on the lower right
that's been pulled out of the claw right here.
Those can cause very serious lesions because they
go very, very deep, often times, all the way up into
back to the bone.
In the upper right, we have a nail that is embedded
in the sole as well.
So there's all kinds of different types of foreign bodies
that can become impacted into claws as well.
On the upper left here, we can also find the problem
that I mentioned earlier, the thinning of the sole.
Here we have the hoof tester on the inner sole.
Here we have it on the outer sole
and you see how flexible that sole is.
This is the thin sole problem that becomes really, really
a difficult one to manage here.
On the lower left you see this thin soled
toe ulcer we call that.
That's just the corium that's shining through there
because the sole has become so thin
that the corium will actually,
eventually protrude through there.
This can be an extremely debilitating kind of a condition
and it's very, very difficult to manage,
particularly when it occurs early in lactation
because it's very, very different to get new horn growth
to occur throughout that lactation,
especially if this animal has an any great distance to walk.
So thin soles and thin soled toe ulcers become really
important conditions, very very debilitating types
of conditions that we can run into in herds.
Then of course, we can't forget the other infectious
disorders of the foot.
Here we're looking at a foot rot, a very nasty necrotic
lesion in the inner digital skin.
A foot that has got a generalized swelling
throughout the foot.
This is an extremely debilitating kind of a condition,
although we can treat it when we detect it early.
As you'll see here a little later, that this is a very,
very costly disease for us because generally when it occurs
for one thing, but also because it causes some very,
very extreme lameness, some very severe problems
for the cow when this problem develops.
It also has some very bad complications,
whereas the infections themselves can localize in joints
and create for us a very, very chronic
and very, very severe lameness disorders,
that may in some cases, require surgery for the cow
or often times may require us to euthanize the animal
because there is no other real good options for us.
This is an important disease and one that fortunately,
tends not to occur as frequently as possibly some
of the claw disorders we looked at there earlier.
But it is, none the less, an extremely important one.
In the winter time, sometimes the rates start to
escalate rather significantly with this particular lesion.
So lameness due to foot rot is really an important
condition for us to be aware of.
Then we have of course, the one that I think most of us
are aware of and that digital dermatitis
or the hair heel wart condition, which still remains one
that is really one that very difficult to control.
The work we've done here at Iowa State shows that in fact,
even with topical therapies, with tetracycline for example,
two or three times in a row we still don't get permanent
improvement or permanent elimination of the disease,
even with very aggressive types of treatment.
So this one is one that we're still trying to find
better ways to manage because it is such a common
disorder in our industry.
In fact, the most common, the most common cause of lameness
in fact, and it is one that we still don't have
good answers for how to manage.
Those are just a quick overview of some of the most
important lesions that we deal with.
I'll talk a little bit more about some of the specifics
of these and what little information we have
on the specific degree of impact
that these have financial or economically.
The cost of lameness is the thing that we are talking about
here today and it's a very important one
to take a look at.
It is the most costly clinical disease of dairy cattle.
A lot of people would be surprised at that,
but in fact, when you look at this particular disease
and how common it is today, it makes total sense.
Look at this graph, for example.
As you see this graph, we see that we have here
we have mastitis, we have a number of issues here.
I'll get this out of the way.
A number of issues here, mastitis, lameness,
displaced abomasum, retained placenta,
and metritis and what you see here is,
is that mastitis is a very significant disease
from the standpoint of economic loss,
particularly in individual cow, a case $262.00 per cow
is an estimate here in this particular slide
from work that's been done by Dr. Chuck Guard
from Cornell University.
If you consider that on a herd cost per year,
considering normal rates of clinical disease,
$10,490.00 would not be out of the range
of likelihood of cost of lameness for a herd
of only 100 cows, that's what we're looking at.
In this right hand corner here, cost of 100 cows,
a cost per year of somewhere around $10,400.00
from the clinical causes of lameness.
That's the ones where cows get very, very ill.
The ones that we are apt to have to treat individually.
But then look down here at lameness and displaced abomasum.
These are the ones, the twisted stomach,
that abomasal displacement problems that occur.
Notice that this is probably because it requires surgery
in most cases.
One of the most costly of clinical diseases,
$489.00 cost per cow.
But because the incidence of that is relatively low,
we hope certainly, in most cases that does not amount
to a very significant amount of loss in our herd cost
per year for 100 cows, for example.
But let's look here at lameness.
Look at this one, the cost is about the same,
roughly $478.00 by this estimate.
I usually consider the cost to be somewhere
in that 470 to $500.00 or more
cost per cow with lameness.
If you look at that cost on a per year basis for 100 cows,
we're looking at a very substantial amount of loss.
The point is, as I say, and I think it's an important one
to remember, the most costly clinical disease
of dairy cattle is lameness.
It behooves us to try to do all that we can
to manage this particular condition.
One way that you probably are wondering,
well how do we come up with these cost estimates?
Well, they again, we go back to some of the work
that Dr. Chuck Guard has done at Cornell
and presented over the years.
This is from a few years ago, but it still is the way
we look at these things today.
The cause of cost of economic loss and where it really
accounts from is that in some cases we end up
with death, albeit it's a smaller amount of animals
that actually die with this kind of a condition.
Although, that may be a little higher today because
in some cases, the only option for managing those
is euthanasia, so that death cost could be higher
because in fact, in some cases, because these very severe
types of lameness we cannot provide relief,
medical therapy that's gonna provide us a relief
from that condition.
So we may end up with euthanasia of those animals.
The cost, in general, if it was only a 2% number
of animals, that would be $44.00 of loss there.
Culling, these animals are culled earlier normally,
because they don't reproduce, they don't become pregnant.
The rate of loss is greater for culling purposes.
Here is estimated $192.00.
Milk loss, of course we know lame cows are not going to
produce nearly as well.
Put a charge of about $170.00 on milk loss
and reproduction at 68.
Of course, the treatment costs.
When it's all said and done, we work our way up toward
a figure of around $500.00.
So from my own way of thinking, when I look at the estimates
of economic loss, $500.00 is a pretty reasonable cost
estimate for clinical lameness.
I had a farmer one time tell me
that when they mentioned, Kim mentioned the master hoof
care program, which is a training program that we do
to help train on-farm trimmers on how to care for foot
problems and trim feet and so forth.
I noticed that this one farmer sent his people
to this program year after year.
I was just curious why he did so.
He said, "Well," he said, "I found it to be very beneficial
"to us in looking at the cost of lameness
"and how this program has benefited by having
"our on-farm care, foot care program in place.
"We found it beneficial to us economically."
He said, "We've been able to reduce
"the cull rate to lameness."
I said "Hm, that's curious."
I said, "Could you show me some of your figures?"
So he did.
What he did, he showed me that before he started
sending people to this particular trimming program,
his cull rate due to lameness was about 4.3%.
I don't know all the details of how he figures all that
in there, but this is how it was reported in his records.
He said after he started sending people to the program
and they started instituting a good on-farm trimming
and foot care program, he said that they reduced their
costs dramatically because they reduced the number
of animals that were culled down to somewhere over 1.25
or three or 4%, went up to about 1.5% in 2001.
Of course I didn't follow it beyond that,
but I could understand the point he was making,
that where he saw the value to him was in the case
of just reducing the number of lame cows
that he had to sell for slaughter.
Now, these figures of course, don't fit very well
for today, but back at the time, the current
market value of dairy replacements was at that time
about 1850, that's $1,850.00.
The salvage value of lame cows was $300.00.
Of course, these figures vary and you could put
your own figures in there, but then look at
the market value minus salvage value and that's how
he came up with the figures that he did here,
which showed that for his herd of 2,118 cows,
4.3% or so was 90 cows.
That was the average cull rate for 1995-99.
He said he subtracted from that 30 cows,
that was what he was culling during the period of time
through 2000 and 2001.
That was 60 cows essentially,
that did not need to be replaced.
He added that up times the replacement value
that we just looked at, he came up with a
value somewhere close to $100,000.00.
Now, you could argue whether how you know,
accurate that is, but I think that one of the things
that we see when we institute foot care programs
and we try to be aggressive in trying to manage
foot problems and lameness disorders on farms,
one of the places we should see an advantage pretty quickly
is in the reduction of cows that need to be lost
or that need to be removed from the herd
for lameness reasons.
Then there's a whole host of other benefits
that are there with respect to reproductive performance,
milk production, et cetera, et cetera.
So I think that it's very easy to justify
an effort toward improving our foot care programs on farms,
just looking at it in extremely simple way.
The economic impact of this is very important.
If you look at this, this is from a UF dairy herd,
the University of Florida's dairy herd many years ago,
we took a look at that again as well, and we used some kinds
of figures that came from some British work by
Esslemont and Peeler, down here on claw disease.
They said that about $422.00 per case,
that's what they estimated the cost to be.
Dermatitis and foot rot, they estimated to be $128.00
per case for a herd of 345 cows,
which is the size of the University of Florida
dairy at the time.
So I just took those and put together,
from their records, of what that cost was for the herd
based on the number of lameness disorders
that the University of Florida dairy was having.
We got a cost of around $58,266.00
of estimated total loss
based on the numbers of cases that
they had with those conditions in that herd.
This was roughly a 30% incidence of lameness.
You could figure this out for yourself very easily,
but the cost, as you see when we multiply that all out
and divide it out, all those things on a 350 cow herd
with a 30% incidence, that was roughly 105 cows
that had lameness in that herd.
When you multiply that out, we see that our costs
were somewhere around that $555.00 range,
which is pretty consistent with the $500.00 per case
per lame cow cost that I shared with you earlier.
So just as a general way, a rule of thumb in looking at
the cost of an individual cow that is lame,
regardless of what that case may be cause by,
you know, claw diseases, foot rot, whatever,
just in a rough, general way, $500.00 per cow,
per lame cow, gives you some rough idea what that's
costing you per lame animal.
Then if you take that and divide that out amongst
the whole herd, in this particular case,
that amounted to $166.00 per cow.
There's a number of ways that you could figure the cost
or estimate the cost of lameness in your herd.
These are extremely simple ways of calculating those things
but they give you a ball park idea
of what the cost of lameness is in your herd.
Those are, I think, just very, very simplistic ways
of looking at it, but based on the work that has been done
by Chuck Guard, as I say, from Cornell and others,
it's pretty consistent that those are pretty accurate
estimates based on the best information that we have
that includes you know, the effect on milk production,
the effect on reproductive performance and so forth.
Now I want to show you another individual study that we did.
Again, this is at University of Florida a few years ago,
but this showed the effect of lameness on milk yield
and dairy cows in a study that we did there,
where we were set up to examine the relationship between
lameness and milk yield in dairy cows.
We had 531, the herd had increased a little bit.
This was the University of Florida dairy
at the time as well.
The cows effected with lameness were classified
into one of three groups.
We just looked at interdigital phlegmon,
or that's foot rots.
We looked at foot wart cows and we also looked at
cows with ulcers and white line disease.
We included those all into one group.
Then we compared the
healthy cows with effected cows and looked at the effects
on milk yield, in particular in this particular study.
We ended up with 167 cows, that's 31% of the cows
that were effected with lameness during the lactation
that we studied.
Claw lesions were effected 60% of the animals.
Digital dermatitis effected 31%.
Foot rot effected 9% of the animals.
But what we noticed when we looked at the milk yield
in these animals was that the foot rot cows
produced 1,885 pounds less milk throughout that
That was a decrease of 10%.
Very significant decrease, okay.
Much more than we found for claw lesions,
which are also very debilitating conditions,
but cows with claw lesions, that's white line disease
and ulcers, produce 338 pounds less than healthy cows.
The digital dermatitis cows, they seemed to be effected
pretty significantly, although the differences between
those are not actually statistically significant.
They produced a significantly amount less
than healthy cows as well.
But the one that really stood out was this one
with respect to foot rot.
So foot rot, as I said here earlier in the beginning
of our session here, is a very, very important disease
and one that we cannot afford to overlook.
We looked at the economic impact, assuming a milk price
of $16.00 per hundred weight and a decrease on production
of 1,885 pounds per cow, that represented a loss
of $301.00 per cow.
We noticed that what happened in the case of foot rot,
that 80% of the animals that were lame with foot rot
were effected in early lactation and that was the key,
you see, to why we had such significant loss.
It was occurring prior to peak milk yields, pardon me,
and 60% of them were culled throughout and during
the early lactation period.
Claw lesions and the other conditions,
can occur throughout lactation,
but these foot rots occurred primarily in early lactation.
So they were preventing cows from actually reaching
peak milk yield.
The conclusions and clinical relevance is that
the foot rot was associated with a 10% decrease in milk
yield and milk production.
Lame cows with claw lesions or digital dermatitis
produced less milk than healthy cows,
but the difference in this particular study
was not significant.
Clearly, these are very, very important
conditions and some that we really have to be on top of.
Certainly foot rot can have dramatic impact
on cows, particularly because it tends to occur
earlier in lactation as compared
with some of these other conditions.
We can't ignore what kinds of impact there have been
as well, in feedlot cattle.
It's not as well studied as it has been in dairy cattle
over the years, but just look at a couple of studies.
I point out one that's a little close to home
to all of you there.
Was done by Dr. B. Griffin many years ago,
but it's still I think, very valid as I look
at studies since then.
They all kind of look back to Dr. Griffin's work.
He found that lameness in feedlot cattle
tended to be primarily foot problems.
There were a number of upper leg injuries, up to 15%.
There were a number of cattle with septic joints
and also injection site lesions were made out to,
were a significant number of these as well.
But the records on the two million animals
from five western feedlots that they looked at,
they found that lameness was about 16% of the health
problems and accounted for 5% of the deaths.
Now, it doesn't seem to be quite as high as in dairy
cattle, but let's face it, the dairy cattle world
is a little different in terms of how we house cattle
and the intensity of our production systems is such that
you know, 30% of lameness is not all that far out
of range in many cases, when we looked at an incidence
for lameness on dairy farms.
But in general, you know, anywhere from a 10-16%
or so of health problems from lameness in feed yards
is not uncommon.
The lame cattle that he studied accounted for 70%
of all sales of non-performing cattle.
The price of the salvage cattle was only 53%
of original purchase price.
On average, the salvage cattle left 85 days after arrival
and weighed only 10 pounds more than their in weight.
So clearly, there's a huge impact on
feedlot cattle in terms of rate of gain.
That has huge impact on the economic, impact on a feed yard.
The records on these animals he found that from these
five large western feedlots, the total loss per animal
as they calculated all costs up, were $121.00 per animal.
That's a lot of money and that takes the profitability
out of that real fast.
Some other work that's been done in recent time
in Western Canadian feedlots, has found that lameness
tends to be the second most common disease treated.
Of those that were treated in Western Canadian feedlots,
76% of the cases were foot rot.
I would say that's very different than what we find
in most of our U.S. feedlots.
I don't know exactly how to explain that because,
but it's different, okay.
Certainly, draws one to
wonder about why is that the case.
But the others included joint infections, injuries,
and lameness that were due to conditions
where there was no swelling in the foot.
Digital dermatitis was significant.
Toe tip necrosis syndrome or toe abscesses in other words,
are very common disorders as well.
But if you took those figures and based up Dr. Griffin's
work for 1993, they figured the economic loss
per animal in the feedlot to be $1,700.00 per head
for all animals in the yard.
That's a lot.
That's a huge impact.
If Alberta finishes 2.5 million cattle per year,
the feedlot industry looses around 42.5 million dollars
per year due to lameness.
So it is a huge impact in the feedlot industry as well.
It's critically important from an economic welfare
standpoint but also it's important too,
when you look a this, and I think this is a very
interesting statistic, is that lameness was the number one
reason for euthanasia.
I don't know that we have those same kinds of figures
on dairies, but my guess is that lameness is the number one
reason for euthanasia on dairies as well,
whether it's due to a non-ambulatory cow condition
from a downed cow situation or just an extremely lame
cow that cannot be moved on to slaughter
or moved on to a market.
It can be likewise in large dairies,
the same kind of a condition where it ends up being
the number one reason for euthanasia.
In this particular study,
lameness effected 6.1% of the cattle studied,
accounting for 28% of all treated animals
and 49% of all euthanized cattle.
Very, very significant, very, very significant.
The economic impact, just looking at the cost per head
for pharmaceuticals only was 85 cents.
So when you add that up in the entire industry,
you're looking at a huge impact.
One of the things that happens in Canadian feed yards
as well as in U.S. feed yards, is that they're not set up,
they're not designed to really take
an aggressive look at foot problems to find a specific
diagnosis in many cases.
So quite often times animals are treated with systemic
antibiotic therapy for foot condition
or lameness conditions for which is not really
well defined in terms of what that particular problem is.
So that's a very costly way to manage lameness.
It's quite often times not effective because in fact,
about the only condition that does respond to antibiotic
therapy from systemic therapy is gonna be foot rot
or potentially an injury to the foot.
So it is an extremely costly way to try to manage
lameness and quite often times it's not effective.
This is some work from recent time by Terrell and others
at Kansas State University that gave us another view
of how lameness occurs in feed yards.
Here you'll find a very different number of foot rots here.
We're looking at 9% as opposed to 75% of cases
being due to foot rot.
They found that more of the cases that they were dealing
with were 10% were septic joints
or digital sepsis conditions, which are quite often times
a consequence of a prolonged or chronic kind of a condition.
Toe abscesses accounted for 5%.
That's a pretty reasonable rate.
Sole ulcers and abscesses were occurring about 5.4%
of the time.
Laminitis was 4% of the time.
Digital dermatitis, less than 1%, although what I'm hearing
time at this desk, there's a whole lot of problems
with digital dermatitis throughout our feed yard industry.
My guess is that that number is quite higher
for most of the feed yard industry at this time.
But none the less, it gives you a different look
at the kinds of conditions that are there.
As we look at those, I think we can see that really,
the majority of these and it's a very high number here
that are undefined causes of lameness,
I would say that's much less the case in our dairy industry.
I feel that that's an indicator alone right there,
that we're doing a better job in managing these things
because there's not many of our foot problems,
whenever we're looking at them on a daily basis,
with a hoof trimmer or veterinarian or on-farm person
who's well-trained in foot care,
that we don't understand pretty much what the cause
of our lameness disorder is.
So as we look at these things, I think it's quite
interesting that when we look at these figures
we find that there's a significant number of animals
that die or end up being euthanized for lameness
That is really, really, really costly.
That's the kind of thing that I think our industry,
our feed yard industry has got to get a better handle on
because this is having a huge impact on their bottom line.
I think that's one place where dairies and dairy industry
in general is doing a better job.
We're working hard on lameness
and in most cases, trying to
reduce some of these issues by making sure
that our people are trained and that we're also getting
a foot care person in to work on these things
from time to time before they get too far out of hand.
But this is unfortunately a condition that we see
far too often.
It looks like foot rot, but really what it is
is one sided, you see.
This is only on one side that we see this swelling.
In general, what we're looking at here when we see
those kinds of things is a very complicated foot problem.
It may have been from a sole ulcer
or a white line that went bad.
It could have been from a foot rot that went bad.
But this is where the involvement has gotten into
the joints, it's gotten into the bone
and it's gotten to where it's become a very, very
chronic kind of a problem.
Those are the kinds of things that we need to try
to head off because that ends up leading to chronic lameness
and tremendous impacts on performance in animals.
When we look at these kinds of things, I think we can see
that our feed yard industry is got a ways to go,
I think, in making some of these changes over time.
76% of cases due to foot rot.
That seems incredibly high compared to 9%
in our yards in Kansas.
So there's something there that if those are in fact
all foot rots, that's a very unique situation
that they have there.
But I think the take home from all this is is that
you know, 49% of the cattle that were euthanized
that were lame okay, as compared with respiratory disease,
which only accounted for 10% of animals.
That tells us right here, that lameness is really
a huge factor in the need to euthanize animals
and I don't think it's too far off from being at least,
from a relative standpoint, one of the major causes
for euthanasia on our dairy farms.
Dealing with these earlier, making decisions on them
earlier for early culling purposes, really impacts not only
the welfare of animals but also impacts things
certainly from an economic standpoint as well.
I guess when you look at this thing and I look at
all of this together, it looks like sick cattle will die.
But you see, the lame ones will linger.
They survive and they suffer and that's why that becomes
such an important welfare issue.
It's also why it becomes such a costly one for us.
It's important then, that we keep in mind that
this is the major loss to us when we have to euthanize
animals or when we lose them due to natural death
from a particularly from lameness,
because these are things that in many cases
or most cases, we can fix.
We just need to pay attention to these things,
remove these animals before they're not able to be
sold on to slaughter.
Those are major issues for us to keep in mind.
I think when we look at, again this is from the Canadian
work they return on animals, they found was for healthy
cattle was $690.00 per animal.
Return after the final treatment for cattle
with foot rot was 568.
Back to that 121 figure that we saw that the B. Griffin
found in his studies in the Midwest.
Foot rot in heavy cattle didn't have quite the impact
that it did certainly in our
dairy situation, but nonetheless, very significant.
Injury accounts for many dollars or large dollar loss.
So these are conditions that we can, if we see them
early enough, we can fix 'em.
I'm gonna close right now here right quickly
by just saying that lameness is, and I hope I've been able
to convince you of this, that is is one of the most
costly diseases of dairy and feedlot cattle.
In dairy cattle, it accounts for approximately
$500.00 or greater loss for each animal that's effected.
Whole herd wise, you spread it our in the whole herd,
it's still very, very significant amount of dollar loss,
150 to $200.00 per animal across the herd, effected or not.
Feedlot cattle, well there's a number of figures
we could go with.
I like these and go back to that, $121.00 per head.
That takes a whole lot of the profit out of feeding cattle
for our feed yard operators.
It's important I think, and I think that we can see
very easily, that this has a huge impact
whether it's a dairy or it's a feedlot,
the impact on our economic welfare
is very, very significant.
I'm gonna close it right there.
There's a whole lot more we could say, of course.
There's a whole lot of studies that I haven't gone into
to define these things more carefully,
but lameness effects for diary cattle for our cow calf
industry, it effects their reproductive performance,
their milk production, their ability to get around,
all these things are pretty costly things
for those industries.
Our feedlot cattle of course, it really effects gain.
Very easy to see how these are extremely important issues.
So with that, I think I'll stop.
Kim, I'm gonna turn it back to you and
see if there are any questions we might have out there.
Thank you Dr. Shearer.
I see one question, couple questions that came in
to the chat.
Heidi Carol, from South Dakota State University asks
which disease/disorder is the most difficult
for employees or trimmers to identify.
That's a great, great question.
I think most of our trimmers that are well trained
can identify just most of the conditions.
It's rare that we can't
tag it with either being a claw disorder
or an infectious skin disorder of the foot.
I think probably the hardest ones for trimmers
and even the hardest ones even for veterinarians often times
to sort out are the upper leg injuries
because they can be a little bit more...
Sometimes they're subtle and sometimes they're just
hard to sort out in an animal that size
because it's hard to manipulate all the joints and so forth.
But it could be stifle injuries, it could be hip injuries
and so those can be the hardest ones I think, to sort out.
But most of the foot problems, where people have had
any kind of training at all, really most of the foot
problems I think, can be pretty well sorted out.
There may be a few, but it's a very small percentage
of those that would be
you couldn't figure out what was going on.
One of the things that we train our trimmers to do as well
too is if they need to,
they can't tell where the problem is up above in the leg
or down in the foot, but they know that the animal's
painful and lame,
a lot of times we can anesthetize the foot.
If we anesthetize the foot, turn the cow out,
and she walks better, obviously the problem is in the foot.
We just need to sort that one out a little bit better.
If there's no change essentially,
then obviously the problem is up above.
I think the hardest ones though, as I say,
are gonna be the upper leg injures and upper leg problems.
Our next question comes from Mark Mitch and he asks,
at what point does lying time become an issue
for lameness in dairy cows?
In other words, is there an optimal amount of lying time
to provide good hoof health?
The studies that have been done would say that ideally
the cow is going to be able to lie for 12 to 14 hours a day.
That would be her kind of the normal for her.
That would be ideal.
Now, all of that depends on what else fits into that
daily time budget.
You know, cows have to walk to and from the parlor.
If it's a three time a day milking, some of that is likely
to cut into the normal budget
that this animal would daily 24 hour time budget,
that she would have for lying and resting.
But when you start to get much less than 11-12 hours,
most of the studies start to show
that it starts to increase the degree or the amount
of lameness that we see.
So just in a very rough way okay,
11 hours, 11-12 hours seems like the cut off,
a nice cut off.
When you get much below that, it starts to reflect in
a greater amount of lameness.
Above that tends to be more beneficial
with respect to foot and leg health.
Jacob Post asked what suggestions may you have
about running foot baths?
How often as well as specific products?
Boy, great question, toughest one I always get.
I think first of all that, the primary condition
that we can expect or we would expect to treat
with a foot bath is digital dermatitis or foot warts, right.
There's no real evidence that it's particularly effective
for controlling foot rot, although we often times
will put a foot bath in or start running a foot bath
if we're into an epidemic of let's say, foot rots.
But the reality is is that
probably no real good evidence that I'm aware of
for the benefits of foot baths and managing conditions
like foot rot and it's very difficult
to manage foot warts with foot baths.
But, with what little information that we have,
and there's a variety of commercial products out there
for which there's not a lot of good controlled research on,
so let me just break it down to,
there are three things out there that people use.
One is acidified copper sulfate.
Another is copper sulfate.
Another is maybe formalin.
Formalin and formaldehyde is a hard one to manage
in the wintertime, of course, because cold weather
causes it to separate and break down into paraformaldehyde,
which is totally ineffective.
So copper sulfate tends to be one that many people go to.
It's an astringent that has a drying effect on the foot.
So there is some benefit of course, to that,
with managing hairy heel warts.
But here's what we have learned and some of the studies
we've done in the past in a few years here is,
that digital dermatitis, when you see the classic lesion,
the classic mature or chronic lesion,
those do not respond well no matter
what you put in a foot bath.
You have to understand that one going in
because those don't even respond well when we treat them
aggressively, topically with say tetracycline for example
two or three times in a row.
We've tried that and we've had poor results
to getting a permanent cure from that very aggressive
form of therapy.
It does reduce the pain and that lasts for a while.
But in terms of being a permanent fix it's not.
So what ends up being the benefit or the primary benefit
of digital dermatitis control with a foot bath is
when you treat the extremely early lesions.
When we treat the very, very early lesions
with a foot bath formulation, regardless pretty much,
and ours was with formaldehyde, 3% formaldehyde solution
is what we studied at the time, we had pretty good luck
at controlling the very early lesions.
But we had very poor benefit from treating
the more chronic or the mature type lesions.
Foot baths are not the cure all.
I think they're a necessity, when we're trying to manage
digital dermatitis or foot warts,
but you have to recognize that they're probably not
going to change
mature or chronic lesions to normal skin.
That's probably too big of a
outcome to expect from this.
But if we're looking to try to control the overall
number of conditions within a herd by controlling
the very, very early lesions, I think we can accomplish
something with foot baths when we approach it that way.
'Cause it will control, at best,
it will control some of those very early lesions.
You had mentioned having a foot bath
for the early lesions.
How often do you recommend a foot bath?
So, great question and it's a hard one to answer as well,
but I think as a general rule, if you have a very high
incidence of the disease in the herd,
then you need to run the foot bath probably
just about every day, right, or most every day.
If you are dealing with a situation where your
daily prevalence or your incidence is quite low,
you can possibly get by with running it less frequently.
That's part of it.
I would kind of, there's no real hard fast rules on that,
but that would be my recommendation.
More when you have a lot of problems.
A little less when you don't have quite as much
of the problem.
It costs you to run foot baths
and that's one of the problems with it.
It's also labor intensive.
So I realize all those things, but I think that
that's how I would try to gauge its use,
depending on how severe the problem is in the herd.
Remember also what I said about how to
assess your outcome.
Know that the mature and the chronic lesions
are not gonna respond very well.
But overall and over time, you should reduce the overall
incidence because you're gonna be controlling
the very early lesions, you see,
and preventing them from becoming the mature
and chronic type lesion.
How would a dairy go about treating and handling
animals, so if you have a dairy that already has
the signs of lameness, where a significant number
of their lactating herd is lame from a moderate
to severe basis, how do they go about starting to treat
the animals and reducing their incidences of lameness?
I think the thing they have to do is get a handle
on what is the cause of the lameness, right.
Is it digital dermatitis, which tends to be fairly
prevalent in our herds
and it's a major cause of lameness, of course?
It may be the cause and if we understand that
and if we know that, then we start to you know,
work on a foot bath management program to try to manage,
at least the early lesions and maybe provide some
relief to the discomfort that's occurring with even
the mature and chronic lesions, of course.
But it would still give us some direction as far
as where to focus a lot of our management effort.
If we find that the problems are predominately
claw-related disorders, such as let's say sole ulcers
and white line disease,
then that drives us in a different direction.
That drives us into looking at what's causing
the high number of sole ulcers, for example.
If we have a lot of sole ulcers,
I start to wonder about cow comfort.
Are we overcrowded?
Are cattle getting off of their feet?
Are we forcing them to stand too much?
What are we doing around transition that may be
influencing a higher incidence of this particular condition?
Then I think if you're finding a lot of upper leg injuries,
then obviously you have some slipping and falling
and that also would give you some direction in terms
of where you would want to focus some attention
to sort out why that's occurring.
I think what you kind of have to do is
get working on feet, get somebody working on feet,
a trimmer, veterinarian, a trimmer.
If you're a large herd, it's probably gonna be a trimmer
for sure, but I think you need to get some handle on
what are the predominant cause of lameness in your herd
and then start to focus your attention on why
that's occurring and fix those problems.
'Cause you don't want to continue to just fix feet.
You want to find out why you're having a higher than
normal rate of problems with ulcers or white line disease
or whatever the case might be.
Well thank you Dr. Shearer.
It is 1:00 and so I thank everyone for joining us today
for the Dairy Profitability webinar series.
We have two more webinars coming up.
We have Dr. Victor Cabrera next week.
Then the following week we have Dr. Andrea Beankini
who talking about spores and the impacts of milk quality.
This recording will be available online
at dairy.unl.edu under the webinars tab.
So, thank you again for joining us and we hope you can
join us next week as well.
Thank you very much.
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