Effect of lameness on milk yield in dairy cows

J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2002 Mar 1;220(5):640-4. doi: 10.2460/javma.2002.220.640.


Objective: To examine the relationship between lameness and milk yield in dairy cows.

Design: Cohort study.

Animals: 531 dairy cows.

Procedure: Cows affected with lameness were classified into 1 of 3 groups on the basis of type of diseases or lesions observed, including interdigital phlegmon (foot rot), papillomatous digital dermatitis (foot warts), or claw lesions. Cows not affected with lameness were classified as healthy. From Dairy Herd Improvement Association records, 305-day mature equivalent milk yield data were collected at the end of lactation or when the cow left the herd. Milk yield was compared between cows affected with lameness and healthy cows.

Results: 167 (31%) cows were affected with lameness during lactation. Lame cows had claw lesions (60%), papillomatous digital dermatitis (31%), or interdigital phlegmon (9%). Milk yield in lame cows with interdigital phlegmon (mean, 17,122 lb) was significantly less, compared with healthy cows (19,007 lb).

Conclusions and clinical relevance: In this herd, interdigital phlegmon was associated with a 10% decrease in milk production. Lame cows with claw lesions or papillomatous digital dermatitis produced less milk than healthy cows, but the difference was not significant.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

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