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Getting to grips with hock lesions in cattle
  1. Richard Laven, BVetMed, PhD, MRCVS1 and
  2. Chris Livesey, BVSc, MSc, MRCVS2
  1. Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11222, Palmerston North, New Zealand
  2. Chris Livesey Consulting, Givendale House, Leppington, Malton, North Yorkshire YO17 9RL, UK
  1. e-mail: r.laven{at}

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HOCK lesions have long been recognised as a common problem in housed dairy cattle (Ekesbo 1966, Baggott and Russell 1981, Lobeck and others 2011), and are likely to become more so as cattle are housed for longer periods and zero grazing becomes more common. Furthermore, the presence and severity of hock lesions has been positively correlated with levels of other types of injury, as well as lameness and other disorders (Fulwider and others 2007) and they have often been used as a measure of welfare in both informal and formal assessments (Lombard and others 2010, Lobeck and others 2011). Yet the condition itself has been poorly defined. There are three main areas of concern. First, the term ‘hock lesion’ has been used to describe conditions varying from mild hair loss to grossly swollen and inflamed hocks with severe skin ulceration, principally on the unproven basis that the three lesions form a continuum from mild to severe hock damage. Secondly, a plethora of scoring systems has been used with no standardisation across studies, markedly reducing the value of between-study and between-system comparisons. Finally, scores for hair loss, …

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