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Risk factors for lameness on 10 dairy farms in Ireland
  1. N. Doherty,
  2. S. J. More, MVB, PhD, DipPM, MANZCVS, FANZCVS, DipECBHM, DipECVPH and
  3. J. Somers, MVM
  1. UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland;
  1. E-mail for correspondence: nialldoherty90{at}

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Lameness is an important welfare issue for dairy cows (O'Callaghan and others 2003) and has significant economic implications (Hoffman and others 2012). The aetiology of lameness is multifactorial and the result of interactions between the environment, farm management, nutrition and genetics (Leonard and others 1998). Detailed research on risk factors for lameness have been conducted in several countries, ­particularly New Zealand, the UK and the USA, and are known to vary with different management systems (Chesterton and others 1989). To date, lameness is best understood in cattle-managed in-housing, with limited knowledge available for other management systems. In Ireland, the prevalence of lameness in cows at grass and indoors is 17 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively (Boyle and Olmos 2008). This is similar to results from the UK, with relatively comparable management systems and climate, with 15 per cent for grazing herds and 39 per cent for zero-grazing herds (Haskell and others 2006). With the impending abolition of quotas within the European Union, many farmers will be seeking to increase their herd size, and it is therefore imperative that relevant risk factors are identified and corrected. The aim of this investigation was …

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