Evaluating the treatments for lame dairy cows suffering from claw horn lesions

Fund

Norman Hayward Fund

Grant

£63,000

Research Period

2013

Area of study

Cows

Description

Principal investigator: Jon Huxley
   

FINAL REPORT

The aim of this research was to undertake a clinical trial to determine the best treatment to reduce the duration of lameness caused by claw horn lesions (a group of diseases causing lameness) in dairy cattle. In a previous study we tested treatments in a population of cows which were newly and mildly lame. Unfortunately farmers are often a little slow identifying and treating lameness, so in this study we selected a population of cows which were more chronically lame, i.e. more representative of the cows which are treated on farm.
We conducted a randomised, controlled clinical trial (the gold standard study for testing different treatment options for a condition) on seven dairy farms to test three different treatments:
  • Group 1: Therapeutic trimming of the hoof
  • Group 2: Therapeutic trimming plus a glue-on block applied to the sound claw to reduce weight bearing on the diseased claw
  • Group 3: Therapeutic trimming plus a block, plus a 3 day course of an anti-inflammatory drug (Ketoprofen)
There was a low response rate to treatment across all three groups and statistical analysis demonstrated that there were no differences in recovery between them.  When compared with results from our previous trial, which treated acutely lame cows, where response rates to treatment were substantially higher, it can be concluded that any delay in treatment is likely to reduce the rate of recovery.  38% of animals treated in this study were lame on the contralateral hind leg at the end of the study, suggesting that both hind limbs should be treated when lameness is identified, particularly if the duration of lameness is unknown.  The study has highlighted a number of key messages for the industry, particularly that early identification and treatment is vital for successful lameness treatment and to improve welfare on farm.
Read Jon Huxley's published paper.