Risk Assessments

Lameness has a range of different causes, and is often multi-factorial in its nature, thus there is no simple solution which is guaranteed to work in all farm situations. For this reason it can help to assess every farm on an individual basis, by carrying out a risk assessment. The DairyCo Healthy Feet Programme works on the principle of the assessing risks.

A structured risk assessment involves individually considering all the factors which are known to be causes of lameness and deciding whether they are likely to be contributing to the problem on a farm. By performing the risk assessment, it is also possible to measure the risks from individual factors more selectively, which is particularly useful because many lameness problems are due to a combination of factors (such as poor floor surfaces, exposure to disease, etc.), making it somewhat difficult to define factors separately, to attribute the proportion of blame to each factor and to identify how they can be improved in order to contribute to better cow comfort and health to reduce mobility problems.

Risk assessments measure management areas such as stocking densities, cubicle dimensions, slurry management, floor surfaces, cow flow characteristics in milking areas, observed competition amongst the herd for feed space, nutrition, the management of calving cows and the quality of lameness monitoring and recording on the farm.

Structured risk assessment forms are available on-line together with advisory notes on how to best approach the task objectively.

The DairyCo Healthy Feet Programme works through the various aspects on farm, with a review session built into the programme so all people involved in the management of the cows are able to input. Aspects are viewed from the perspective of the cow, man and management to ensure that actions are achievable and manageable.