Record Keeping

Apart from regular Mobility Scoring, effective record keeping on herd lameness prevention and treatment - particularly where foot trimming is concerned - is particularly useful in recognising where a problem exists, identifying its causes and then being able to monitor control measures and therapies introduced as a result.

Several studies have indicated that the on-farm incidence of lameness is generally under-recorded; recording being often limited to those cows requiring antibiotic treatment, with a failure to record animals treated by correct trimming and the removal of damaged horn, in addition to determining the exact type of lesion, where present. This limited scale of lameness recording seriously underestimates the scale of problems on many farms.

Furthermore, this lack of effective recording limits the prevention of future outbreaks of mobility problems, particularly where recurrent cases occur, by being unable to observe any trends. Recording the incidence of lameness can be used to:

  • Highlight the different types of lameness within the herd.
  • Indicate any seasonal periods of high lameness risk.
  • Identify the severity and duration of lameness cases.
  • Identify chronically lame cows, particularly those responsible for the spread of infection.
  • Formulate a strategy to control the farm's specific mobility problems.

In fact, it is particularly useful, when routinely trimming feet at drying-off or during lactation, to record the presence of any observable foot problems. In this way, problems identified at an early stage can be monitored for progress. Information routinely recorded includes:

  • The limb and claw affected.
  • Details of the lesion present.
  • Any trimming required to treat the lesion.
  • Any medication used - such as antibiotics - to treat the problem.
  • How the problem has progressed, whether treatment was a success and any re-occurrence of the problem.

More complex recording systems can be used but the benefits are only to be gained if the information is recorded accurately, any conclusions - about how a particular problem can be prevented in future, for instance - are acted upon and the results are then analysed over time to monitor progress. Working with members of the vet profession and NACFT standardized recording sheets have been developed to aid with recording animal, lesion found and severity. Copies can be found here.

The latest herd management software programmes are capable of analysing lameness diagnoses and define trends in herd mobility problems. They can also produce herd trimming lists. They do rely, however, on the diligent input of accurate information, so their usefulness is still dependent on correct identification of the lesions or problems present.