The hidden scourge of lameness
Given the tight margins in beef production, anything that erodes them should be avoided or minimised.
Lameness is one of the hidden factors contributing to poor animal performance and in turn reduced returns.
Our housing types and the regular trading of cattle between farms can contribute to the lameness burden which is most prevalent this time of year.
Having been housed for a prolonged period, in many cases on high concentrate diets, cattle can show the classic signs of reduced thrive, mainly due to feet and muscular issues. These issues can be exaggerated on bare concrete slats, areas where hygiene is poor or where the proper levels of mineral/ vitamin supplementation hasn't been provided.
While obviously having reduced daily liveweight gain, lame animals will take longer to finish, require increased labour input and put a strain on pen space.
Most incidences of lameness in beef cattle can be traced back to infections such as foul in the foot and digital dermatitis. Toe abscesses, septic joints, laminitis and physical injuries are also common.
Environment, nutrition and cattle comfort are the three main factors determining the prevalence of lameness.
Problems such as low pen stocking rates causing slurry build up, irregular bedding or slurry pooling in open yards, can cause foul in the foot or digital dermatitis.