In a new episode of Experts Talk, the online lameness-prevention video series launched by Zinpro Corporation earlier this year, Dr. Dan Thomson calls for an integrated approach to decreasing cattle lameness – one that begins with consistent locomotion scoring and applies sound lameness education principles.
Dr. Thomson is a third-generation veterinarian and Director of the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University. He was instrumental in the development of the Step-Up Management Program, a combined effort of Zinpro Corporation, the Beef Cattle Institute and Kansas State University that provides a systematic approach to identify and manage beef cattle lameness.
“Being able to communicate clearly across segments about the severity of lameness is critical not only to managing lameness, but also to preventing the injuries that cause it,” said Dr. Thomson. “Lameness is prevalent and it does cause losses. It is one of those issues we’ve seen for years; however, it hasn’t received the credit or the blame it deserves for what it really costs us within the industry.”
Thomson said the Step-Up program is a truly integrated approach that protects the well-being of animals as they move through the various beef industry segments. “Doing the right thing for the animals generally correlates well with profitability,” he added.
A cornerstone of the Step-Up program is a locomotion scoring system designed specifically for beef cattle to assess severity of lameness. “The system gives us a consistent way to talk about lameness across the industry,” explained Dr. Thomson. “It was developed by working with producers, feedlot owners, veterinarians and nutritionists in the field; we picked up feet and looked together at clinical cases. In that way, we could make sure that the training tools we developed were validated and that farmers, ranchers, feedlot owners, veterinarians and nutritionists are all classifying lameness the same way.”
One of the goals in developing the Step-Up program, Dr. Thomson said, is to not only diagnose and treat lameness, but also to prevent it from happening in the first place. “Over the next five years, we hope to see a decrease in lameness because of the Step-Up program,” he noted. “That’s better for the animals and comes back as money in the pocket of ranchers and farmers.”
The Experts Talk online video series, sponsored by Zinpro Corporation, features one-on-one discussions with leading authorities on foot health and lameness prevention in multiple species. A different expert is featured in each episode discussing topics that range from lameness detection, to treating claw lesions that cause lameness, to best management practices for lameness prevention. To learn more, visit the Experts Talk video library on zinpro.com.