Published 23 June 14

Swellings demonstrate some form of damage to the skin and in some cases, the underlying tissue.

Occasionally, small areas of swelling may be inevitable among a herd but swellings larger than 2cm should give reason for concern. Swellings are caused by cows lying down on hard surfaces, uncomfortable cubicles and injection sites; they may also be signs of abscesses or cysts.

Hind leg, hock and front leg swellings are strong indicators that the lying area is not comfortable. Neck swellings tend to indicate an inadequate feed barrier or incorrect cubicle neck rail height.

Presence of swellings on other body parts may indicate that there are areas in the cow’s environment which are causing injuries.


A scoring scheme has been developed to aid producers in assessing the level and number of swellings within the herd. Running on a 0 -2 scale, four different body parts are used to record the location of the swellings.

AHDB Dairy have produced resources for use on farm when assessing the herd.

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