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Facilitating the reduction of lameness in dairy cattle

D. C. J. Main, K. A. Leach, Z. E. Barker, A. K. Sedgwick, C. M. Maggs, N. J. Bell, H. R. Whay

LAMENESS in dairy cattle is a significant burden to UK farmers and an area of animal welfare concern. The researchers developed and evaluated an intervention approach to provide practical solutions to this problem.

A three-year study was designed to assess novel intervention approaches to encourage farmers to implement husbandry changes targeted toward reducing lameness. All farms completing the study (189) were visited at least annually and received monitoring only (MO) or monitoring with additional support (MS) from the research team. This support consisted of traditional technical advice on farm-specific solutions, facilitation techniques encouraging farmer participation and application of social marketing principles to encourage the implementation of change. For ethical reasons, farmers in both groups received feedback after each visit.

Lameness prevalence was lower on the MO and MS farms at the final visit compared with the same MO and MS sites on the initial visit. Reduction in lameness over time was greater in the MS group than the MO group. Farms in the MS group made a greater number of changes to their husbandry practices over the …

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