Beef cattle lameness can originate from both physical and psychological trauma, says Tom Noffsinger, D.V.M.
Noffsinger was among three featured speakers at the Zinpro Corporation beef-cattle lameness prevention seminars held recently in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.
"All human contact shapes cattle behavior," said Noffsinger. "So when we start moving animals, the lameness risk goes up, especially when we move animals without thinking about the potential for injury."
Two types of bruising can happen to animals:
• Physical bruising (or trauma) can occur due to falls or injuries that cattle incur when walking on slick, abrasive, uneven or excessively sloped surfaces, said Noffsinger.
• Psychological bruising (or trauma) can occur from stress related to long confinement times, changes in housing, loud and strange noises and over-pressuring cattle during movement to different facilities.
"The lion's share of lameness occurs during the first three weeks after moving animals," said Noffsinger. "However, proper interaction between caregivers and cattle will reduce the lameness risk."
Connie Larson, Ph.D., North America research and nutritional services ruminant manager for Zinpro, said feeding animals appropriately can improve immunity and performance.
Cattle owners and caregivers should be looking for and treating lesions early, before they result in visible lameness, Larson adds. "Producers often miss the animals that are mildly lame," she said. "Prompt care for these mildly lame cattle is the biggest opportunity to improve animal well-being and profitability."
More can be done to be proactive in beef lameness management before seeing animals limp, emphasized Dörte Döpfer, Ph.D., D.V.M., University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.
"We need to implement an integrated prevention and control strategy to lameness management that includes proper cattle handling, improved nutrition, footbaths, hoof inspections and trimming," Döpfer said. "Programs that build awareness and help identify DD and foot rot in beef cattle can be very useful to accomplish improved cattle hoof health and overall performance."
In addition to hearing from expert speakers, the seminar participants learned about the Step-Up Management Program, developed by Zinpro Corporation, in conjunction with the Beef Cattle Institute and Kansas State University.
The Step-Up program provides a systematic approach to identify and manage beef cattle lameness.