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Epidemiology of lameness in dairy cattle: the influence of cubicles and indoor and outdoor walking surfaces
  1. W. B. Faull, BSc, FRCVS1,1,
  2. J. W. Hughes, MIBiol, CHBiol, NDD, CDD1,
  3. M. J. Clarkson, PhD, BSc, DVSc, DSHP, MRCVS1,
  4. D. Y. Downham, BSc, PhD2,
  5. F. J. Manson, BSc, PhD1,
  6. J. B. Merritt, BSc1,
  7. R. D. Murray, DVM&S, DBR, MRCVS1,
  8. W. B. Russell3,
  9. J. E. Sutherst, BSc, MSc1 and
  10. W. R. Ward, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS1
  1. 1 Department of Veterinary Clinical Science and Animal Husbandry, The University of Liverpool, Veterinary Field Station, Leahurst, Neston, South Wirral L64 7TE
  2. 2 Department of Statistics and Computational Mathematics, The University of Liverpool, PO Box 147, L69 3BX
  3. 3 Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, Liverpool L3 5QA


A survey of cubicles and indoor and outdoor walking surfaces on 37 farms served by four veterinary practices in Somerset, Cheshire, Wirral and west Wales was carried out in 1989 to 1991. A study of the space requirements of Friesian/Holstein cows at pasture showed that they required approximately 240 cm x 120 cm lying space and a further 60 cm lunging space for rising. By these standards, 87 per cent of the cubicles were too short and 50 per cent were too wide or too narrow. Over 1500 observations on cows lying down, rising and standing indicated that only 12 per cent of the cubicles permitted real freedom of movement; 91 per cent of top partition rails were judged to be too low and 70 per cent of bottom rails too low or too high. In addition, the kerb was very high in 76 per cent of the cubicles. As a result, 10 per cent of cows appeared moderately or severely restricted when lying down, 33 per cent when rising and 55 per cent when standing. Over 2000 cubicle beds were also studied; 75 per cent had a concrete base and of those, 63 per cent were judged to have too little bedding and 11 per cent next to none. Higher incidences and prevalences of lameness were associated with limited borrowing space (P<0.01) low bottom rails (P<0.05), high kerbs (P<0.05) and inadequate bedding (P<0.01). Of 3190 walking surfaces, only 25 per cent were classified as satisfactory in the first winter and 34 per cent in the second. In general, surfaces in silage bays were too rough and those in other sites were too smooth. The farms with the smoothest indoor walking surfaces had a significantly higher incidence of lameness (P<0.01). Of 3335 outdoor walking surfaces only 25 per cent were classified as satisfactory, and 70 per cent were too rough. The incidence of lameness was not significantly related to these findings.

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  • The Rev W. B. Faull's present address is The Vicarage, Church Road, Ashton, Chester CH3 8AB

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