Foot lameness is a common problem in dairy farming and not unusual in wet conditions. It can be caused by cows having to walk long distances from paddock to the milking shed – particularly if these tracks are not well-maintained – and by standing on concrete floors for long periods. This results in the soles of the feet becoming overworn and bruised, or stones becoming embedded in between the toes. However, it is also related to nutrition and abnormalities in conformation and to impatient stockhandling.
Lameness is a painful condition. It causes an animal to eat less and lie down more, resulting in loss of body condition. The RSPCA believes that good dairy cow management must aim to reduce the causes of lameness and ensure that, when it does occur, it is picked up and treated promptly in order to avoid unnecessary suffering and distress.