Bayer Animal Health has launched a new free app, BCSCowdition, which aims to help farmers easily identify cows who are losing condition and potentially most ‘at risk’ of lameness and other diseases associated with loss of body condition.
Recently published research papers have highlighted the link between dairy cow body condition score (BCS), and the incidence of lameness.
The research has shown that BCS loss can be a precursor to, and help to predict the probability that, dairy cows will suffer an episode of lameness caused by a claw horn lesion. The work shows that cows calving at BCS of less than 2.5 are more likely to go lame, and less likely to recover. The same has also been shown for cows losing 0.5 points BCS or more after calving.
The link between BCS and lameness is due to the fact that in early lactation, as most cows cannot eat enough to meet their requirements, they need to rapidly mobilise body fat to meet high energy demands. This reduces the BCS and also affects the digital cushion within the hoof, which is essentially a ‘fat pad’.
Loss of fat from the digital cushion reduces its thickness and this disables its function. Alongside other changes which occur around calving, this can then lead to injury and inflammation of the sensitive tissue in the hoof resulting in the horn lesions which cause lameness.
With BCS loss being viewed as a major contributor to lameness, Bayer has launched their new BCSCowdition app to help farmers easily and accurately body condition score and identify which cows are most ‘at risk’ of lameness .
“The app has a two-pronged use for farmers and anyone involved in condition scoring cows,” says a Bayer spokesperson. “For those regularly scoring cattle, it can act as a good benchmarking tool to check accuracy of score, and ensure consistency between people.
“Then people who perhaps aren’t as confident, or don’t have a regular set system in place for scoring cows, can use the app to systemise the process, as it will also store multiple, dated records for individual cows. This ensures the information can be used to identify cows most at risk – any cows calving at less than BCS 2.5 or any that see condition loss post calving.
“We wanted to provide farmers with a tool to help them with this major herd challenge, as a lameness case is costly in terms of the big impact it has on milk yields, fertility and the longevity of the affected cow in the herd.”
The app was launched at UK Dairy Expo in Carlisle, where visitors trialled the app using model cows.
Search ‘BCSCowdition’ in the app store to download for free.