lameness, mastitis, weather, disease prevention
Early spring can be exceptionally wet because of rain and melting snow. Muddy conditions resulting from the wet weather constrain best management practices; animals, feed, and the environment can all be negatively affected. Under these conditions, two major ailments can affect dairy cows: 1) mastitis due to environmental bacteria and 2) lameness. Cows with mastitis decrease production, have greater treatment costs, and can eventually be culled or die. Lame cows incur higher production losses, lower fertility, and greater culling rates. Deaths due to lameness or injury increased 60% between 1996 and 2007, and lameness continues to be the second highest reason to cull in the U.S., right at 16% (NAHMS 2007). Furthermore, the Farm Animal Welfare Council (1997) considers lameness among the best welfare indicators for dairy cattle.
Garcia, Alvaro, "Wet Weather: Lameness and Mastitis" (2010). SDSU Extension Extra Archives. 141.