In this series of different reasons why cows go lame, I want to mention a very important principle, namely, the role that concrete plays in lameness.
Many different kinds of mechanical lameness are due to the non-yielding effect of concrete surfaces. This is why beef cows suffer less often from lameness than dairy cows do.
In grazing dairies, we find that the long and rough roads that cows walk on lead to lameness, but that is something we will discuss as time goes on. Cows were designed to walk on soft and yielding surfaces. If you study the biomechanics, a cow has a very poor suspensory effect in its skeleton. Imagine a trailer without suspension moving on a tar road … it will be a jarring experience. When the same trailer moves on thick lawn, or even in deep sand, the ride will be less bumpy. The only way to soften the bumpy ride on the tar surface, would be to deflate the tyres in order to absorb more of the shock. The risk would be creating permanent damage or failure to the tyres.
What happens to a cow? The pressure that the P3 bone puts onto the corium and the digital cushion, creates haemorrhage that leads to lesions in the sole. In fact, when cows stand for long periods of time on concrete, it does more damage than walking on it. This is because of how the blood supply functions in the claw. A cow’s suspension, therefore, depends on the walking or standing surface. Grazing cows standing in the holding pen for very long periods actually create more lameness than the rough and long walkways.
Guest Writer & Consultant to DairySmid: Jaco de Bruin