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Effects of housing practices on the development of foot lesions in dairy heifers in early lactation
  1. A. J. F. Webster, MA, PhD, VetMB1
  1. 1 Department of Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU


Measurements were made of sole haemorrhages and white line lesions in two groups of heifers which were either introduced to a cubicle house four weeks before they calved (group 1) or housed in a straw yard for eight weeks after calving and then moved into the cubicle house (group 2). The overall severity of the lesions was described by a cumulative score which defined the product of the severity and the area of the overall lesions in each animal. The lesions were scored on six occasions, from four weeks before to 24 weeks after parturition. Before parturition, sole lesions were absent or very small. By four weeks after calving, most of the animals had both types of lesion, but the differences between the two groups were small and statistically insignificant. There were no significant differences in the white line lesions between the two groups at any of the observations. There were, however, progressive, highly significant differences between the two groups in the severity of sole haemorrhages. By 12 weeks after calving, the median score for group 1 was 69 and that for group 2 was 11. In group 2, the sole haemorrhage score peaked at eight weeks but declined thereafter, even though these animals were moved into cubicles eight weeks after calving. By 12 weeks after calving, six of the 17 heifers in group 1 had sole ulcers but none of the 16 in group 2 had ulcers.

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