We have a team skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of lame cows. We are committed to the training and up-skilling of you and your team in this area and run regular lameness workshops to achieve this. Danielle Gifford is registered as a Healthy Hoof trainer.

Lame cows

The problem of lame cows has continued to be an issue for many farms from Spring right through mating. The main problems affecting dairy cattle hooves are white line disease, toe abscesses and bruising. Whilst wet conditions underfoot are being blamed as the obvious culprit for causing this damage, the presence of these foot conditions can be indicative of other factors that need to be addressed to reduce incidence and severity of lameness in your herd.

White line disease describes the condition where the hoof becomes weakened at the point where the sole and hoof wall meet (the white line). Daily abrasion from walking; pressure on concrete yards (milking or feed pad) and poor cow flow are common factors in pasture based dairy systems that can contribute to the weakening of the white line.

Bruising of the sole is indicative of damaging top surface of race; long walking distances (<1.5km) and gravel on concrete wearing the sole thin.

Understanding the behaviour of cows can dramatically reduce the impact of these risk factors causing lameness in your herd. In the milking herd one of the critical pressure points is the flow of cows into the dairy shed. When cows walk to the shed they need time & space on the yard to resort themselves into their milking order. This is because the walking order of cows is not the same as their milking order. In different situations different cows will show different levels of motivation. Some cows will not allow others to walk in front of them on the track but in the shed these same cows may be quite content to sit back and come in last for milking. If the backing gate is turned on too soon (before the first 2 rows of a herringbone are milked), or for too long a time (greater than 5 seconds) the cows will resist moving forward in the wrong order. This causes damage to the cows’ hooves as they are pushed on the yard.

Whilst factors on the track and milking yard account for 60% of the causes of lameness in dairy cows it is important to remember other factors that may contribute to hoof weakness such as deficiencies in zinc and copper.

A farm assessment to determine the specific risk factors active your farm on would be the first step in the development of an action plan to reduce the impact of lameness on your herd performance (milk production and reproduction). Tararua Veterinary Services Ltd can provide this service. We can train your dairy team in prevention and treatment of cows as part of the healthy hoof programme. The healthy hoof programme details can be viewed at

 Dislocated Hips in Cattle

These are most commonly seen during the mating period when cows riding each other on the yard slip, spread their legs too far leading to the dislocation of their hip joint. Occasionally cows with milk fever will slip on the yard leading to the same injury.

The common signs of a dislocated hip in a cow are:

  • Sudden onset, severe lameness with a history of being on heat or having slipped over on the yard

  • Often the leg is held out straight and very stiff

  • When the cow bears weight on the leg the stifle joint often turns out

  • When looked at from behind the position of the hips is different on either side.

To fix the dislocation the cow will need to be heavily sedated and laid out on her side. Ropes are tied to the leg and traction applied along with manipulation of the hip and the stifle joints. The chance of success depends on the severity of the damage to the hip joint and the time since the hip dislocated. As time passes the joint fills with blood and muscles around the joint contract making the dislocation much harder to fix. The longer the hip is left out the harder it is to put back in place.

What can you do to improve the chance of success???

It all comes down to time. If you recognise any of the above signs and suspect the hip is dislocated then please call your vet immediately. If the hip is left for more than 2 days then the chances of getting it back in place are greatly reduced.