May 2022


Claw horn lesions (CHL) are reported as the most common cause of lameness in intensive dairy systems. Despite their prevalence, the underlying pathological mechanisms and preventive strategies for CHL remain poorly understood. Recent advances have pointed to the role of inflammation in disease aetiopathogenesis. Moderating inflammation from first calving may lead to long-term benefits and a viable intervention for treating and preventing disease. We conducted a 34-mo randomized controlled trial to investigate the effects of routine treatment with the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug ketoprofen at calving and during treatment for lameness, on the future probability of lameness and culling, caused by exposure to normal farm conditions. A cohort of dairy heifers were recruited from a single, commercial dairy herd between January 8, 2018, and June 22, 2020, and randomly allocated to one of 4 treatment groups before first calving. The lactating herd was lameness scored every 2 wk on a 0 to 3 scale, to identify animals that became lame (single score ≥2a) and hence required treatment. Animals in group 1 received a therapeutic trim and a hoof block on the sound claw (if deemed necessary) every time they were treated for lameness. Animals in group 2 received the same treatment as group 1 with the addition of a 3-d course of ketoprofen (single dose daily) every time they were treated for lameness. Animals in group 3 received the same treatment as group 2 with the addition of a 3-d course of ketoprofen (single dose daily) starting 24 to 36 h after each calving. Animals in group 4 received a 3-d course of ketoprofen (single dose daily) every time they were identified with lameness. No therapeutic trim was administered to this group, unless they were identified as severely lame (a single score ≥3a). Animals were followed for the duration of the study (ending October 23, 2020). Probability of lameness was assessed by a lameness outcome score collected every 14 d. Data on culling was extracted from farm records. One hundred thirty-two animals were recruited to each group, with data from 438 animals included in the final analysis (111 in group 1, 117 in group 2, 100 in group 3, and 110 in group 4). Mixed effect logistic regression models were used to evaluate the effect of treatment group on the ongoing probability of lameness. Compared with the control group (group 1), animals in group 3 were less likely to become lame (odds ratio: 0.66) and severely lame (odds ratio: 0.28). A Cox proportional hazards survival model was used to investigate the effect of treatment group on time to culling. Compared with group 1, animals in groups 2 and 3 were at reduced risk of culling (hazard ratios: 0.55 and 0.56, respectively). The lameness effect size we identified was large and indicated that treating a cohort of animals with the group 3 protocol, would lead to an absolute reduction in population lameness prevalence of approximately 10% and severe lameness prevalence of 3%, compared with animals treated in accordance with conventional best practice (group 1).

J.P. Wilson, M.J. Green, L.V. Randall, J.S. Thompson, N.J. Bollard, J.N. Huxley
Journal of Dairy Science DOI: