Prevalence, incidence, and risk factors for lameness in dairy cattle in small-scale farms in Kikuyu Division, Kenya
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A prospective study was conducted to investigate the importance of lameness in dairy cattle on small-scale farms in Kenya. The gait and locomotor system of all cattle on randomly selected farms were examined during two visits, 3 months apart. Data on housing, management and signalment of cattle were obtained through an interview using a structured questionnaire. Seventy-eight farms, with a total of 216 cattle, participated in the study. The prevalence of clinical lameness on the initial farm visit was 11.7% (View the MathML source), most of which was due to foot lesions (View the MathML source). Foot lesions were highly prevalent (32.9%; View the MathML source). The prevalences of various foot lesions were: heel erosion 15%, under-running of the bearing surface 14.5%, loss of solar concavity 9.3%, interdigital cleft lesions 8.3% and hoof overgrowth 6.9%. The incidence of clinical lameness was 1.46% per cow-month (eight cases in 548 cow-months). Of foot lesions, interdigital cleft lesions (wounds, necrobacillosis, fibromas and dermatitis) had the highest incidence (4.54%) followed by heel erosion (4.43%) and loss of solar concavity (flat soles, 1.63%). Interdigital lesions (wounds and necrobacillosis) comprised 51.5% of clinical lameness cases while hoof overgrowth comprised 15.2%. Risk factors for the prevalence of lameness were modelled. A moderate proportion of the variability of lameness occurrence was due to farm (11.5%). The most important farm characteristic associated with an increased prevalence of lameness and foot lesions was confined housing. The odds of lameness for cattle in zero-grazing farms were 2.9 times higher than those for cattle grazed on pasture. Two individual-animal factors increased the risk of lameness: the Jersey breed (OR = 5.2 versus local and cross breeds) and the early and late lactation periods (OR = 4.1 for early lactation and 5.5 for late lactation versus non-lactating).