Cow

Lameness during the dry period increases transition diseases in dairy cows

Alvaro Garcia

During the transition period dairy cows are at higher risk of developing infectious and metabolic diseases that result from sudden changes in behavior and metabolism. Among these changes the reduction in intake in the weeks close to calving is likely to be the change with the most profound effect as predisposing cause for metabolic problems.

Relationship between dry matter intake, lameness, and the occurrence of metabolic diseases

Inadequate nutrient intake has been associated with common problems such as metritis, subclinical hypocalcemia and subclinical ketosis. To further complicate things a reduction in dry matter (DM) intake during the close-up period may prolong and aggravate the negative energy balance during the transition period through fat mobilization.

This increased metabolism in the adipose tissue and the liver causes a state of inflammation has been linked to higher occurrence of several of these per-parturient problems. Adequate nutrition is also fundamental to maintain hoof integrity and prolong productive life. Lameness continues to be the second highest reason of dairy cow culling in the U.S., right behind mastitis. Furthermore, lameness is considered among the best welfare indicators for dairy cattle.

Subclinical acidosis and its clinical manifestation, laminitis, may result from nutritional or even management errors. Inadequate amounts of dietary effective fiber can result from excessive grain supplementation, the presence of highly fermentable carbohydrates or changes in the fiber/carbohydrate ratios.

One other important aspect to assess the health status of dairy cows is body condition scoring. While subjective, it is still a very useful and practical visual assessment tool of the nutritional status of cattle with high percentages of repeatability attained with practice, both between measurements and scorers.

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Lame cows and fertility

Alvaro Garcia

According to the National Animal Health Monitoring System, lameness is the first reason for cows, losses followed by mastitis. Research has shown that nearly one-third of the total water absorbed by the hoof happens during the first hour of exposure to high moisture resulting in heavier and softer hooves. As a result, the presence of mud or accumulated manure are among the predisposing causes for cattle lameness. Hoof lesions represent 90% of lameness cases and can be divided in noninfectious lesions (e.g. sole hemorrhage, sole ulcer, or white line disease) and infectious lesions (digital dermatitis and foot rot). Insufficient bedding or poor-quality bedding can make both problems worse.

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Lameness among dairy cows housed in hospital pens

Lucas Pantaleon

Lameness is an important problem in dairies around the world and it negatively impacts animal welfare and financial performance of dairy farms. It is speculated that lame cows may heal quicker when housed in a soft floor hospital stall, where competition with other animals for resources is less, and monitoring and treatment is easier.

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Estimating withdrawal period after topical application of oxytetracycline for digital dermatitis treatment

Estimating withdrawal period after topical application of oxytetracycline for digital dermatitis treatment

Nuria García-Fernández

Digital dermatitis (DD) is a polybacterial disease that affects the skin on the heels of cattle. Round lesions occur along the coronary band of the claws, above the interdigital space next to the heel bulbs. It was first described in Italy in 1974 by Cheli and Morterallo, and it has become a growing problem worldwide for the dairy industry.

The bacteria most often associated with DD are spirochetes of the genus Treponema. Digital dermatitis is commonly treated with a topical application of tetracycline (paste or powdered form) directly to the lesion. Therefore, the risk of violative antibiotic levels in milk following topical application of tetracycline is high. The maximum residue limit for tetracycline in dairy milk is 100 ng/mL in the European Union and Canada, whereas in the United States the tolerance is 300 ng/mL. The Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank recommends a 24-hours milk withdrawal interval for topical use of tetracycline in the United States.

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