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Teagasc launch new guide: Reducing lameness in Irish dairy herds


Reducing lameness on Irish dairy farms will result in a higher standard of cow welfare, which is crucial to maintain Ireland’s image as a producer of high quality sustainable dairy products; will also decrease the use of antimicrobials on dairy farms and result in many other benefits. Read more here

Pictured above at the Teagasc Animal & Grassland Research & Innovation Centre, Moorepark, Fermoy, Co Cork at the launch of a Teagasc booklet on 'Reducing lameness in Irish dairy herds' are Prof. Pat Dillon, Teagasc Director of Research, Natasha Browne, Teagasc, Ger Cusack, Comeragh Veterinary, Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford, Dr Muireann Conneely, Teagasc Research Officer, Ned Dunphy, Farm Relief Services & Irish Cattle Foot Trimmers Association (ICFTA) & George Ramsbottom, Teagasc Dairy Specialist. Photo O'Gorman Photography.

Decreasing the use of antimicrobials on dairy farms, thereby lowers the potential for antimicrobial resistance; and increases the productive lifespan of dairy cows, which will decrease the carbon footprint of Irish milk production.

Estimated cost of €300 per lameness episode

Recent Teagasc research has found that on average one in ten dairy cows in Ireland is lame at any one time

With an estimated cost of at least €300 per lameness episode, this represents, both a significant economic cost, and a welfare concern for farmers nationally. However, there are many things that farmers can do to address this challenge.

Dr. Muireann Conneely, Teagasc Moorepark, in conjunction with Ned Dunphy, Waterford Farm Relief Services (FRS), and Ger Cusack, Veterinary Practitioner, Comeragh Vets, both from Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford, have just launched a new publication called, ‘Reducing Lameness in Irish Dairy Herds’. 

This publication

  • describes the common lameness conditions,
  • lists the risk factors and
  • details the steps that farmers can take to reduce both the incidence and severity of lameness in their dairy herds.

Teagasc - equipping Irish dairy farmers

Speaking at the launch of the guide at Teagasc Moorepark, Dr. Conneely said; “Minimising lameness on dairy farms is a challenge faced by farmers worldwide. While cows managed in indoor milk production systems typically suffer from a higher incidence of lameness, cows grazing outdoors also suffer from the condition. Our guide will equip Irish dairy farmers with the information that they need to tackle lameness, in clear and simple terms”.

The Vet's perspective

Speaking at the launch, Ger Cusack, Comeragh Vets observed; “As a vet working in a busy large animal practice, I advise farmers to treat lame cows immediately. Prompt action reduces the severity of the condition and improves the chances of a complete recovery”.

FRS - Prevention is key

Ned Dunphy, Waterford FRS, commented; “Prevention is the key to minimising lameness. Ensuring the cow’s environment is conducive to hoof health is crucial. I also encourage preventative hoof paring and regular foot bathing to reduce the incidence of the disease on dairy farms”.

Launching the guide, Professor Pat Dillon, Director of Research, Teagasc said; “Factors such as milk yield and longevity contribute to the carbon footprint of the milk we produce in Ireland. Lameness negatively impacts on our footprint by lowering both milk yield and fertility in affected cows. This guide will contribute to the knowledge available to farmers on how to reduce the incidence of lameness on their farms and improve the sustainability of milk production”.

Get your copy of Reducing Lameness in Irish Dairy Herds

Copies of the guide are available from Teagasc offices nationwide. The guide is also available here on the Teagasc website  

Further information is available from Muireann.conneely@teagasc.ie

You might also like to read this article Addressing lameness on the dairy farm by dairy advisor Mark O’Sullivan, Clonakilty.