How Preventative Foot Trimming Can Reduce Herd Lameness

Locomotion scoring of cows

Sarah Cann, part of our CMC focus team provides valuable information to help you measure, manage and monitor the level of lameness in your herd to improve herd health, productivity and overall farm profitability.

Locomotion scoring

What is locomotion scoring?

Locomotion scoring is based on the observation of cows standing and walking (gait), with emphasis on the back posture of the cow. The use of locomotion scoring is effective for early detection of claw (hoof) disorders, monitoring prevalence of lameness, comparing the incidence and severity of lameness between herds and identifying individual cows for preventative trimming. There are two scoring systems that you maybe familiar with, the Zinpro (1-5) and the AHDB (0-3).

Other scoring systems are available, if required. Our CMC Focus Team are Register of Mobility Scorers (RoMS) certified and are able to cater for a wide range of scoring requirements.

Zinpro System (Sprecher System)

Score 1 – Normal walking cow
Score 2 – Straight back when standing, arched back when walking
Score 3 – Ached back when standing, arched back when walking but unable to determine which foot she is lame on
Score 4 – A lame cow, able to identify which limb she is lame on (typical lame cow)
Score 5 – Severely lame cow

Learn more on the Zinpro website

AHDB System

Score 0 – Normal walking cow
Score 1 – Cow with uneven strides
Score 2 – Typical lame cow, able to identify which limb she is lame on
Score 3 – Severely lame cow

Learn more on the Dairy website

Important considerations when scoring your own herd

  • The same person should score the cows every time (some people are more lenient, some people are harsher), having the same person scoring every time provides consistency which is a great help and enables you to compare results more reliably.
  • First impression on that cow counts! This is usually the most honest interpretation, if you overthink the score, you second guess yourself and once emotion comes into it, it may not be a true reflection of the locomotion score of that cow.
  • When scoring, please try to pretend those cows are not your own! We appreciate that this is difficult (you know all of the history of the individual cows in your herd) but you need to detach yourself from your herd in order to give an honest opinion.
foot health

CMC locomotion scoring report?

When you get your CMC scoring results via email (or via post), you will see that it gives you the average lameness score for your herd. You will also, in future, have a graph that tells you how your herd is improving.

The benefits of preventative trimming

We want to be preventative trimming our herd.

If we are always chasing the lame cows, it is taking a lot more of your valuable time and effort, which means you are spending considerable amounts of your day trimming lame and severely lame cows. It is not fun!

Picking up the preventative trims means that we catch those cows early, we can stop them becoming lame cows and costing us more money in terms of poor fertility, poor health, costs of treating lameness, having the foot trimmer out to farm, reductions in milk yield, increased risk of mastitis, reduced dry matter intake, loss of condition……the list goes on!

Lameness is considered the third most critical condition and is responsible for the third highest reason for culling (after fertility and mastitis).

However, lameness can cause negative impacts on fertility and increased risk of mastitis. So, is lameness a bigger problem than we all think?

Score results

Zinpro Score 3 cows are your prevention trimming cows. If you are really on top of your game and you do not have any (or many) Score 5 or 4 cows or many Score 3 cows, then we can start looking at your Score 2 cows. The more you can reduce your lameness prevalence on farm, the healthier cows we have, the better fertility we have and better chances for more milk in the tank. We will see improved intakes, lying down time; you name it, all these areas will be better!

On the AHDB System, we are looking at trimming those Score 2 cows and Score 1 cows too. It may seem that you have a lot of cows to pick up and trim but putting the time in now, will save a lot of time (and negative impacts on herd health etc.) down the line and a lot less reasons to cull cows for lameness.

The average cost of lameness is about £180 and that is from culling a cow to treating a Digital Dermatitis case, this money could be put to very good use elsewhere.

If we can get on top of this and really tackle it, the better our herd health (and farmer health!) will be.

Sarah Cann

Sarah’s key points

  • Prevention trim your herd – pick those cows up early to prevent problems later.
  • Aim for zero lameness in the dry cow pen (if there are lame cows in the dry cow pen, prioritise over milking cows as this can cause significant issues in early lactation).
  • Measure, manage, monitor the level of lameness on your farm

How can CMC help you?

During the current time, if you need help and advice with having a go at scoring your own cows, please contact the Office (T: 01363 772212) who can ask Sarah or Kyrin to give you a call to go through things with you.

Once the current situation has returned to a more normal way of working, please contact your CMC Representative who will arrange for one of our Focus Team to call and arrange a visit to score your cows.

Sarah Cann

Sarah Cann is part of our dairy focus team together with Kyrin. They cover the southwest providing essential services to our customers and backup to our ruminant team. Sarah regularly body condition and locomotion scores herds as well as providing farm costings, grass plate metering and calf weighing.