Dairy Cow Lameness Manifesto


Signatories commit

This Manifesto, developed by the Dairy Cattle Mobility Steering Group details the collective British dairy industry commitment to incrementally reduce dairy cow lameness over the next 20 years, so that it becomes minimal across all herds. This will improve cow welfare, reduce carbon footprint and safeguard the social license of dairy farming.

Signatories commit to work collaboratively to achieve the goal of incrementally reducing lameness in GB dairy herds. By following this Manifesto, we expect to achieve at least a 10% relative reduction in lameness prevalence year-on-year, on a national scale. This is a 20 year commitment, by which time our aim is that lameness prevalence will be minimal in all herds.
All Signatories are important stakeholders in the GB dairy industry. They support the four Strategies detailed in this Manifesto, and have publicly disclosed the specific Actions which they are choosing to adopt. These are the deliverables by which their own progress can be measured.

To incrementally reduce lameness by at least 10% year-on- year, until at least 95% of all British dairy herds achieve a lameness prevalence* of under 5% by 2044.

* Lameness is defined as Mobility Score 2 or 3, using the RoMS accredited scoring system, or, in time, a RoMS equivalent that might be measured through technology. RoMS is the Register of Mobility Scorers.
Prevalence is the proportion of cows which are lame at any one time.
In order to accurately assess national prevalence whilst avoiding bias, it is proposed that scores will be collected periodically by independent fully trained scorers from a sample of herds, anonymised and collated to give a robust and reliable national overview. This may be under the guidance of the Dairy Cow Mobility Steering Group or a suitable academic institution.

Four Strategies

Our Objective will be achieved by:
Strategy 1

Including all dairy herds - whatever their starting point.

Strategy 2

Using farm-specific preventive plans to empower farmers to act.

Strategy 3

Ensuring that the implementation of all relevant knowledge and technology becomes the norm.

Strategy 4

Incentivising farmers to achieve good foot health.

Each Strategy is underpinned by specific Actions we expect to be adopted.

Dairy Cows

Why Now?

The GB dairy herd has a lameness prevalence of around 30% 1,2, and it has remained high on a national level despite many advances in understanding around foot health, and despite the fact that many individual farms have reduced lameness substantially in their own herds.

It is very possible to achieve minimal levels of lameness; we now have the tools to do so. This Manifesto is designed to galvanise and co-ordinate action across the whole industry and all herds to achieve our objective of a year-on-year reduction in lameness.

Lameness reduction is a long-term process. Changes made today, such as better breeding decisions or improvements to infrastructure and housing, can take several years to fully implement or yield results. Taking action now to improve foot health will strengthen the industry’s reputation and sustainability into the future.

Target-setting is important to the objective of this Manifesto, but producing reliable lameness prevalence data is not easy. Previous experience is that mobility scoring data collected where the results may have negative financial consequences for the milk producers has been less reliable than those collected through independent research initiatives.
An independently scored, anonymised sample of herds will be the preferred method to track progress on lameness prevalence against the milestones set out. This will be done to the best ability at the time.
Improved objective measuring of lameness prevalence would by itself represent significant progress for the industry.

If the Actions and Strategies are successfully implemented, we expect the following milestones to be met:

No Data Found

2024 2028 < 20% 2035 < 10% 2044 < 5%

Foot health is a single issue campaign with multiple effects

Whilst it might at first seem somewhat extravagant to have a Manifesto on this single dairy cow health issue, lameness in dairy herds has been identified as the highest priority health and production syndrome of cattle by the UK Ruminant Health and Welfare Group3. Of all endemic diseases, improvement here is likely to have the largest single impact on reducing methane in the UK cattle sector4.

What’s more, improvements in foot health will make the dairy industry more sustainable from an economic perspective5. Besides, cows which show signs of lameness are suffering pain and discomfort; dairy consumers rightly expect the provenance of their food to be as welfare-friendly as possible, and improving foot health substantially helps to meet that objective.

Finally, we are proud of our industry and we care about our dairy cows. We want to, and we will do the right thing for them.

1 Randall LV, Thomas HJ, Remnant JG, Bollard NJ, and Huxley JN (2019) Lameness prevalence in a 1 random sample of UK dairy herds. Veterinary Record: first published as 10.1136/vr.105047

2 Griffiths BE, Grove White D and Oikonomou G (2018) A Cross-Sectional Study Into the Prevalence 2 of Dairy Cattle Lameness and Associated Herd-Level Risk Factors in England and Wales. Front. Vet. Sci. 5:65. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2018.0006 www.frontiersin.org › articles › pdf

3 Cattle and sheep health and welfare priorities – a ‘grassroots’ survey across the four nations of the UK ruminanthw.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Cattle-and- sheep-HW-priorities-survey-May-2021-FINAL.pdf

4 * Acting in Methane: opportunities for the UK Cattle and Sheep Sectors  ruminanthw.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/SO-634-Ruminant-Report-Methane- April-2022-web.pdf

5 CATTLE MOBILITY: Changing behaviour to improve health and welfare and dairy farm businesses www.reaseheath.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Cattle-Mobility- Final-report-December-2013.pdf