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A multidisciplinary approach to the reduction in lameness and improvement in dairy cow welfare in the European Union

Lameness in dairy cows is a major economic and welfare problem. Interaction between husbandry systems, development of lameness and its biological causes is poorly understood. The project aims to reduce lameness by identifying and applying best practice and through an understanding of underlying biological mechanisms. The outcomes will be guidelines for minimal lameness husbandry systems and hoof trimming packages for the dairy sector, resulting in reduced incidence of lameness, improved animal health and welfare, husbandry systems and product quality, and increased productivity.

The objective of the project is to identify indicators to assess husbandry systems in relation to the incidence of lameness and its impact on animal welfare by integration of on-farm data recording, and identification of interactions between foot health and physiological status in heifers and dairy cows. It will study the mechanisms by which husbandry systems and physiological status interact with hoof tissue by using morphological and biomechanical methods. Model systems will be used to study effects of inflammatory and metabolic signals on the hoof vascular, cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in hoof tissue growth and disease. This project will recommend standards to improve animal welfare, provide guidelines to develop minimal lameness husbandry systems, and use modern information technologies to prepare training packages for use in the dairy sector.

Progress to Date
1) Agreed protocols for objective measurement of animal, environmental and farm parameters have been established.
2) Agreement on protocols for data collection and production of software packages for use during recording of on-farm data using hand held PCs.
3) On-farm data collection has begun.
4) The project website ( has been activated.
5) Work has started on housing systems, hoof biomechanical properties and model hoof systems.
6) The first phase of the development of the training package has begun.
7) Locomotion studies have been carried out, evaluating the preference of different surfaces for walking on.
8) Samples received have been processed.

Classified in ANIMALS

Scientist responsible for the project

MacRobert Building, 581 King Street
AB24 5UA Aberdeen
United Kingdom (The) - GB

Phone: +44 1224 274228
Fax: +44 1224 273731


Project ID QLRT-2001-00969
Organisation University of Aberdeen
Area 5.1.1
Start date 01 November 2002
Duration (months) 42
Total cost 3 121 726 €
Total EC contribution   2 966 110 €
Status Ongoing
Web address of the project

The partners

  • August Cieszkowski University of Agriculture, Poznan Poland , Poland - PL

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