Review of the relationship between nutrition and lameness in pasture-fed dairy cattle
New Zealand Veterinary Journal, Volume 51, Issue 5, pp 208-218, Oct 2003
Article class: Review Article
Subject Terms: Abdomen, Acid/base/pH, Alimentary system/gastroenterology, Clinical pathology, Diagnostic procedures, Diet/rations/food, Disease/defect, Hoof/claw, Locomotor, Metabolic disease, Nutrition/metabolism, Pasture/cropTaylor and Francis
AbstractLameness of dairy cattle fed predominantly on pasture is increasingly recognised as one of the most costly disease conditions affecting dairy herds in New Zealand and Australia. Numerous risk factors are involved in the aetiology of claw lameness, including environment and factors associated with the conformation of individual cows. The role of nutrition requires further definition. Australasian pastures are characterised by low levels of fibre and effective fibre, rapid rates of fibre degradation, high water content, and high concentrations of rumen degradable protein during the autumn, winter and spring months. Relationships between high-quality vegetative pastures and ruminal acidosis may increase the risk of laminitis, particularly where pasture is supplemented with grains or other feeds containing significant amounts of starch.
This article reviews the incidence, prevalence and pathophysiology of ruminal acidosis and laminitis and considers mechanisms by which acidosis may occur in pasture-fed cows. Techniques for diagnosing ruminal acidosis are reviewed, and practical strategies to avoid it are proposed. Currently, there is little information on the incidence and prevalence of ruminal acidosis and laminitis in pasture-fed cattle. The evidence gathered in this review suggests that ruminal acidosis and laminitis should be considered in the aetiology of lameness in pasture-fed dairy herds.
KEY WORDS: Lameness, pasture, laminitis, dairy cattle, nutrition, acidosis
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