Retrospective evaluation of the causes and distribution of lameness in beef and dairy cattle evaluated by ambulatory and in-house clinical services at a North American veterinary teaching hospital

Lindsey L. Fenster Food Animal Health and Management Program, Department of Population Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

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Logan L. Ruchti Food Animal Health and Management Program, Department of Population Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

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Brent C. Credille Food Animal Health and Management Program, Department of Population Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

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 DVM, PhD, DACVIM

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To describe the causes and distribution of lameness in beef and dairy cattle presenting to either a primary care ambulatory or in-house clinical service at a veterinary teaching hospital.

SAMPLE

This retrospective clinical case study was conducted by reviewing hospital admissions of beef and dairy cattle seen by in-house or ambulatory clinicians at a veterinary teaching hospital from 2001 to 2021.

PROCEDURES

Final diagnosis was recorded and, when available, the affected limb, whether a lesion was localized to the digit, and the affected claw were also recorded. Data were stratified by location of initial evaluation (ambulatory vs in hospital), period of presentation, production class, age, sex, and whether the final diagnosis was infectious or noninfectious.

RESULTS

Overall, 2,220 animals met criteria for inclusion in the study. The most common diagnoses were noninfectious in nature and affected a hind limb more often than a forelimb. More than 82% of all cattle had lameness localized to the digit, with the lateral claw being affected more than 80% of the time.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Lameness is an important concern from both a humane and economic standpoint. The results of this study will help with the diagnosis and prevention of lameness in beef and dairy cattle of different ages and production classes.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To describe the causes and distribution of lameness in beef and dairy cattle presenting to either a primary care ambulatory or in-house clinical service at a veterinary teaching hospital.

SAMPLE

This retrospective clinical case study was conducted by reviewing hospital admissions of beef and dairy cattle seen by in-house or ambulatory clinicians at a veterinary teaching hospital from 2001 to 2021.

PROCEDURES

Final diagnosis was recorded and, when available, the affected limb, whether a lesion was localized to the digit, and the affected claw were also recorded. Data were stratified by location of initial evaluation (ambulatory vs in hospital), period of presentation, production class, age, sex, and whether the final diagnosis was infectious or noninfectious.

RESULTS

Overall, 2,220 animals met criteria for inclusion in the study. The most common diagnoses were noninfectious in nature and affected a hind limb more often than a forelimb. More than 82% of all cattle had lameness localized to the digit, with the lateral claw being affected more than 80% of the time.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Lameness is an important concern from both a humane and economic standpoint. The results of this study will help with the diagnosis and prevention of lameness in beef and dairy cattle of different ages and production classes.

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