Read the Progressive Dairy Canada digital edition


Find information about mastitis, transition cows, vaccination protocols, working with your veterinarian, hoof care and hoof trimming.


Lameness is one of a few words that incessantly irritates the nerves of most Canadian dairy farmers. The highest lameness incidence usually occurs in early lactation. Besides the potential loss of milk, lame cows usually have poor reproduction performance and account for a big share of involuntary culling cases.

Foot problems were reported to contribute 88 percent of all lameness cases. Sole ulcers and white line lesions are the most common claw lesions on North American dairy farms.

Improving floor and bedding conditions and timely trimming is undoubtedly helpful to decrease lameness. However, recent research from Cornell University showed evidence that these claw lesions may have originally developed from the inside out.

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Automotive industry experts tell us about the importance of tire inflation pressure. A properly inflated tire contributes to improved fuel economy, less wear on tires and will reduce accidents.

These features bring economic savings at the pump, the tire shop and the body shop. Correct tire inflation allows for better handling of the car, which improves safety and helps prevents accidents and loss of life.

The advantages of having correct tire pressure are so important that newer vehicles now have a tire pressure monitoring system. For those without one of these new features, an accurate pressure gauge should be carried to periodically check tires on your car or truck.

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The transition from the dry period to lactation is the most stressful part of a dairy cow’s life. Physiological and hormonal changes accelerate during the eighth month of gestation as the milk secretion glands enlarge in the udder and the cow prepares to give birth.

Nutritional requirements increase significantly and play a pivotal role in the cow’s energy status and health both at the time of birth and in the early weeks of lactation when milk production is reaching its peak.

Managing calcium metabolism and reducing the prevalence of hypocalcemia (milk fever) in transition cows continues to challenge even the best dairy farmers and managers.

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0113ca massie 1It never ceases to amaze me how some dairy farmers treat their dry cows.

I mean, they build these incredible palaces to house their milk cows, feed these cows diets balanced to the fourth decimal point and worry and fret on how they are performing.

But dry cows are second-class citizens on many farms: stuck in sub-par facilities, overcrowded and fed rations that are neither balanced nor high-quality.

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Lameness is the number one animal welfare issue facing the North American dairy industry. Lameness is painful and cases can last from weeks to months. Severe cases that do not improve can result in cows being culled from the herd.

Cows experiencing pain are less likely to show signs of estrus, such as mounting and standing for mounting, since these behaviours are likely to induce further pain.

A growing body of research is showing that problems with cow comfort can increase the risk of lameness. In particular, increased time spent standing outside stalls on wet concrete and in manure slurry is associated with higher rates of lameness.

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0113ca leclerc 1The transition period is a challenging time for the dairy cow. Her metabolism needs to adapt rapidly from a non-lactating to a lactating stage, in preparation for the forthcoming calving.

In addition, the reproductive system is preparing ovulation for the next breeding period.

This sudden change increases the glucose demand from the mammary gland and the fetus, which cannot be met solely by the liver.

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