This study investigates the effect of length and cover of track ways between barn and pasture on lameness in Danish dairy cows. We hypothesised that short track distances would be associated with a lower lameness probability of dairy cows compared to longer distances and that track ways with prepared cover (asphalt, gravel, slag, concrete, rubber) compared to no prepared cover (sand, soil and/or grass) would be associated with a lower lameness probability of dairy cows in grazing herds. In total, 2084 dairy cows from 36 herds, grazing their dairy cows during summer, were individually assessed for their lameness status. The cows were further clinically examined for claw conformation and hock integument. Information on breed and parity per cow and size per herd was extracted from a national data base. Track way distance ranged from 0 to 700 m and was categorised as (1) <165 m or (2) ≥165 m. Cover of track way was categorised as (1) prepared (asphalt, gravel, slag, concrete, and/or rubber), (2) partly prepared or (3) not prepared (soil, sand, grass) for the surface of the majority of tracks used. The effect of track way distance and cover was evaluated for their impact on lameness using logistic analysis with a multi-level model structure. The probability for lameness did not change with track distance but increased with no (odds 4.0 times higher) or only partly prepared (odds 3.8 times higher) cover compared to prepared cover. In conclusion, we found that having a cover on the track way was associated with decreased severe lameness in Danish dairy cows.
Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 2014, Vol 113, p. 625-628