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J Dairy Sci. 2000 Apr;83(4):697-702.

Hock lesions and free-stall design.

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1
Animal Welfare Program, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Centre for Applied Ethics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. danweary@interchange.ubc.ca

Abstract

We compared the prevalence and severity of skin lesions on the hocks of lactating dairy cows in southern British Columbia, comparing 20 farms using three common bedding surfaces: sawdust, sand, and geotextile mattresses. Skin lesions were scored at five positions on the hock. For each position we noted if the lesion showed inflammatory attributes, and then assigned a severity score. Of the 1752 lactating cows scored, 1267 cows (73%) had at least one hock lesion. Of those cows with lesions, 87% had lesions on both legs, 76% had lesions on more than one location on the hock, and 78% had a lesion of at least moderate severity (i.e., evidence of skin breakage or an area of hair loss >10 cm2). Lesions were most prevalent on farms that used geotextile mattresses (91% of cows) and least common on farms that used sand (24% of cows). Moreover, lesions on cows from farms using mattresses were more numerous and more severe than those on cows from sand-bedded farms. The prevalence and severity of lesions on farms using sawdust was intermediate. Lesions also varied in relation to location on the hock. For farms using geotextile mattresses, lesions were more common and more severe on the lateral surfaces of both the tuber calcis and the tarsal joint. On farms using sawdust, lesions were common on the dorsal surface of the tuber calcis and the lateral surfaces of both the tuber calcis and the tarsal joint. Lesions were rare on all five positions for cows from sand-bedded farms. Among the 10 farms sampled using sawdust, we found a significant negative relationship between the length of the stall and severity of lesions. For cows with lesions, the number and severity of lesions increased with age.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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