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Udder cleft dermatitis and hock lesions in dairy cows - animal welfare problems in great need of preventive actions

Published 2017-02-01

Recent Swedish regional studies indicate that udder cleft dermatitis (UCD) and hock lesions (HL) are common in Swedish dairy cows, and that the prevalence varies between herds. The severity of these skin lesions varies, but it is highly likely that the majority of the lesions cause pain and discomfort to the cows, with negative effects on animal welfare. It is also possible that UCD and HL are linked to other bovine diseases, such as mastitis and digital dermatitis (DD), and that UCD and HL may have direct or indirect negative effects on milk production. Mastitis and DD are common diseases among Swedish dairy cows causing large welfare problems and high costs for the dairy industry.

The overall aim of the project is to increase the understanding of the prevalence, etiology and risk factors of UCD and HL in dairy cows to improve recommendations on how to prevent these animal welfare problems. We also want to better understand the role of UCD/HL in mastitis and DD, and the impact of UCD/HL on milk production and culling.

More specific aims are to investigate the national prevalence of UCD and HL in dairy herds with loose housing system, to identify risk factors associated with prevalence, etiology and recovery of UCD and HL, to evaluate associations between UCD/HL, and bovine mastitis and DD based on disease incidence and bacteriological findings, and to evaluate effects of UCD and HL on milk production and culling.