The effect of lameness on milk production in dairy cows

J Dairy Sci. 2001 Sep;84(9):1988-97. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(01)74642-5.


Data were collected prospectively for 1.5 yr on two New York dairy farms to investigate the effect of lameness on milk production. The numbers of study cows (percentages treated at least once for lameness) in each herd were 1796 (52%) and 724 (40%), respectively. Lame cows were identified and treated by farm employees or a professional hoof trimmer. Weekly averages of total milk production per day were recorded based on automated milk weight measurements at each milking. The effect of lameness on milk production was analyzed separately for each herd using repeated measures ANOVA. In both herds, milk production decreased significantly for cows diagnosed lame. Milk production was 1.5 kg/d lower > or = 2 wk after lameness compared with cows that had not yet been diagnosed lame in the current lactation in the larger herd. In the second herd, milk production of lame cows was 0.8 kg/d lower in the first and second wk after lameness and 0.5 kg/d lower > or = 3 wk after diagnosis. The decrease in milk production associated with lameness was larger for cows in second or greater lactation and for more severe cases. In one herd, the decrease in milk production was greater for cows with sole ulcers or foot abscesses than for foot rot or foot warts. Cows with abscesses or foot rot tended to have larger decreases in milk production in the other herd. The inconsistent results between farms may have resulted from differences in the relative frequencies of specific causes of lameness in the two herds and in the way lame cows were identified and defined for the study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Foot Diseases / physiopathology
  • Foot Diseases / veterinary*
  • Hoof and Claw* / pathology
  • Lactation*
  • Lameness, Animal / physiopathology*
  • Milk / metabolism*
  • Prospective Studies