About Dairy Wellness

Lameness: Can you stand to lose?
Posted by Jessica Light

Financial losses from hoof disease far exceed the costs of prevention. Decreased milk production, weight loss, premature death and culling, decreased reproductive performance and treatment expenses are the most recognized financial costs of lameness.1 When considering cost of treatment, lower milk production, earlier culling and mortality, your dairy could be out up to $469 per clinical case of lameness.2,3 According to the National Animal Health Monitoring System, 12.5% of cows on dairy operations were affected by lameness at least once in lactation.4 If 12.5% of your cows experienced lameness, what would that mean for your bottom line?

Prevention is key when it comes to minimizing lameness:

  • Hoof trimming at least once per lactation provides hoof soundness and can help uncover potential hoof problems, such as ulcers.
  • Early detection of disease is key. Incentivize your cow pushers and milkers to identify lame cows early and to take action for diagnosis and treatment.
  • Proper nutrition management can help lower the number of foot problems in the dairy herd. Changes in feeding can impact hoof health. Laminitis has many contributing factors, but a good nutrition program will go a long way in reducing the impact of laminitis.

Reduce risk of lameness with help from CLARIFIDE® Plus: CLARIFIDE Plus offers a new way to help reduce lameness rates by allowing you to make better genetic selection and breeding decisions with genomic data for lameness. Genetic improvement for lameness reduction is an important part of an overall management strategy and offers a way to improve your herd’s genetic ability to withstand the physical demands of lactation. Do you know the economic impact of reducing lameness?

Effective treatment:
Foot rot is a leading cause of lameness. In cases of foot rot, prompt treatment is critical. A single case on your dairy can cost up to $446 per cow, increasing the risk of culling, especially during the first half of lactation.5 EXCEDE® (ceftiofur crystalline free acid) Sterile Suspension offers extended therapy in a single dose, making treatment convenient. EXCEDE can help reduce labor costs, hospital pen exposure and performance losses because cows remain in the milking string. EXCENEL® RTU EZ (ceftiofur hydrochloride) Sterile Suspension also is a powerful choice for treatment of foot rot.6 Both products, when used according to label directions, have no milk discard, meaning you won’t have to worry about milk residues or moving cows from their pens and disrupting the social order.

The Dairyland Initiative, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, examines the impact of the housing environment on dairy cattle well-being. Maintaining a clean and dry foot environment and regular footbaths create an effective hoof management protocol. The objectives of footbathing are to remove erosive material from the hoof and to disinfect the skin above the hooves.

Best management practices endorsed by The Dairyland Initiative and other hoof experts for successful footbaths are:

  • Placing footbaths in a well-lit and ventilated area
  • Using footbaths that are easy to clean and refill
  • Situating footbaths in lanes so they don’t disrupt cow flow, especially out of the parlor
  • Setting up footbaths on nonslip surfaces
  • Keeping the footbath free of debris and at an effective pH level

Work closely with your veterinarian to create hoof care programs to help keep the hooves on your dairy healthy and strong. Learn more tips for healthy hooves at or by contacting your local Zoetis representative. Learn more about CLARIFIDE Plus and the ability to help genetically reduce lameness at

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION FOR EXCEDE: People with known hypersensitivity to penicillin or cephalosporins should avoid exposure to EXCEDE. EXCEDE is contraindicated in animals with known allergy to ceftiofur or to the ß-lactam group (penicillins and cephalosporins) of antimicrobials. Inadvertent intra-arterial injection is possible and fatal. Do not use in calves to be processed for veal. Pre-slaughter withdrawal time is 13 days following the last dose. See full Prescribing Information

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION FOR EXCENEL RTU EZ: People with known hypersensitivity to penicillin or cephalosporins should avoid exposure to EXCENEL RTU EZ. Do not use in animals found to be hypersensitive to the product. Do not slaughter cattle for 4 days following last treatment. Do not use in calves to be processed for veal. See full Prescribing Information.


1 Weaver AD. Economic importance of digital diseases in cattle. Bov Pract. 1984;19:223-225.

2 Cha E, Hertl JA, Bar D, Gröhn YT. The cost of different types of lameness in dairy cows calculated by dynamic programming. Prev Vet Med. 2010;97(1):1-8.

3 Guard C. The costs of common diseases of dairy cattle, in Proceedings. Central Vet Conf 2008.

4 USDA Dairy 2007. Part IV: Reference of Dairy Cattle Health and Management Practices in the United States. Fort Collins, CO: United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; 2009:91.

5 Booth CJ, Warnick LD, Gröhn YT, Maizon DO, Guard CL, Janssen D. Effect of lameness on culling in dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 2004;87(12):4115-4122.

6 Van Donkersgoed J, Dussault M, Knight P, Byers L. Clinical efficacy of a single injection of ceftiofur crystalline free acid sterile injectable suspension versus three daily injections of ceftiofur sodium sterile powder for the treatment of footrot in feedlot cattle. Vet Ther. 2008;9(2):157-162.



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