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11 July 2014

McDonald’s UK launch tool to tackle lameness

New analysis from sustainable farming research and development centre, the Food Animal Initiative (FAI) shows regular mobility scoring can help farmers detect and tackle dairy cattle lameness earlier as well as reduce associated production losses.

The analysis was funded by McDonald’s as part of Farm Forward – its long-term programme to create a sustainable future for British and Irish farming – and used data collected as part of a three-year study on four dairy farms across south west England, supported by the Dartington Cattle Breeding Trust.

It found a substantial proportion of lame dairy cows remain affected for several weeks, indicating they are either not treated or are treated unsuccessfully. However, fortnightly mobility scoring can enable detection before cows become severely lame.

Lameness is one of the foremost health and welfare challenges facing the UK dairy industry, but this research shows regular mobility scoring can help detect mobility problems earlier, while still being reasonably practical for farmers. This enables intervention before cows become severely lame, by which time their welfare and productivity are likely affected.

RUTH CLEMENTS, HEAD OF VETERINARY PROGRAMMES FOR FAI