International Lameness Conference

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The 19th International Symposium and 11th Conference in Lameness Ruminants was held in Munich, Germany from 7th-9th September 2017.

The theme for this year was mobility, health and animal welfare which is indeed apt when investigating and researching lameness in ruminants. This theme was certainly promoted well in the relevance and abundance of oral presentations under session headlines of hygiene, digital dermatitis, trimming, animal welfare, pain, detection and impact of lameness to name but a few.

One particular point of interest, which was discussed heavily, was whether to bandage or not bandage digital dermatitis infections. One school of thought is that bandaged can leave the skin soft and compromised if left on for longer than three days, however they do allow sustained contact time for any topical product to work e.g. Konquest Gel. Research lead by M Klawitter in Germany showed that bandaging lead to a 71 to 86% treatment rate within 1 month but not using a bandage only lead to a 30 to 44% treatment rate, as scored visually.

However, it must be noted the techniques used were complex. It involved a lot of cotton gauze, bandage wrap and tar. It was also replaced every week during the month. It may not be the most practical option on farm but it could be used on a few difficult cases.

A study on the effects of a pre-wash footbath and footbath capacity loss observations was presented as a poster. The on-farm observations were relatively small in number but it did provide useful observations. The use of pre wash foot baths in a foot bathing setup was shown to reduce dry matter contamination in the chemical foot bath. The use of permanent footbaths (e.g. concrete, stainless steel) resulted in less loss of footbath solution than temporary footbaths (e.g. plastic).

As the number of cow defecations in prewash footbaths compared to medicated footbaths was similar there would appear to be a significant wash/cleaning effect on cows’ feet by the prewash footbath. A larger study will be required to verify these observations and should include efficacy.

GJ Remnant reported the overall level of lameness in the UK was 36.8% in 2006 to 2007 this had dropped to 30% in a recent study; however there was a range from 7% to 61%.

This would indicate most dairy farms in the UK should be targeting lameness. It has been calculated to cost £10,000 per 100 cows based on a 25% lameness. The cost of lameness per 100 cows can range from £2,800 to £24,400 reducing lameness will greatly improve dairy farm profitability.