In a new video, part of Zinpro Corporation's lameness series, veterinarian Dan Thomson calls for an integrated approach to decreasing cattle lameness – one that begins with consistent locomotion scoring and applies sound lameness education principles.
Thomson, director of the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University, helped develop the Step-Up Management Program, which provides a systematic approach to identify and manage beef cattle lameness.
The program is a combined effort of Zinpro and the Institute.
"Being able to communicate clearly across segments about the severity of lameness is critical not only to managing lameness, but also to preventing the injuries that cause it," Thomson said. "Lameness is prevalent and it does cause losses. It is one of those issues we've seen for years; however, it hasn't received the credit or the blame it deserves for what it really costs us within the industry."
Thomson said the Step-Up program is an integrated approach that protects the well-being of animals as they move through the various beef industry segments, he said.
"Doing the right thing for the animals generally correlates well with profitability," he said. A cornerstone of the Step-Up program is a locomotion scoring system designed specifically for beef cattle to assess severity of lameness.
"The system gives us a consistent way to talk about lameness across the industry," Thomson said. "It was developed by working with producers, feedlot owners, veterinarians and nutritionists in the field; we picked up feet and looked together at clinical cases. In that way, we could make sure that the training tools we developed were validated and that farmers, ranchers, feedlot owners, veterinarians and nutritionists are all classifying lameness the same way."
One of the goals in developing the Step-Up program, Thomson said, is to not only diagnose and treat lameness, but also to prevent it from happening in the first place.
"Over the next five years, we hope to see a decrease in lameness because of the Step-Up program," he noted. "That's better for the animals and comes back as money in the pocket of ranchers and farmers."