Joao Sucena Afonso, Mieghan Bruce, Patrick Keating, Didier Raboisson, Helen Clough, George Oikonomou and Jonathan Rushton have had the following paper published online. You can find the abstract below and for the full publication please click here
Lameness is a serious concern in the dairy sector, reflecting its high incidence and impact on animal welfare and productivity. Research has provided figures on its frequency using different methodologies, making it difficult to compare results and hindering farm-level decision-making. The study’s objectives were to determine the frequency levels of lameness in British dairy cattle through a meta-analysis approach, and to understand the chronological patterns of how lameness cases are detected and classified in scientific research. A systematic review was conducted using PRISMA-P guidelines for article selection. Random-effects models estimated the pooled frequency measure of lameness with heterogeneity managed through subgroup analysis and meta-regression. Sixty-eight papers were identified, 50 included prevalence and 36 incidence data. The pooled prevalence of lameness in British dairy cattle was estimated at 29.5% (95% CI 26.7–32.4%) whilst all-cause lameness incidence rate indicated 30.9 cases of lameness per 100 cow-years (95% CI 24.5–37.9). The pooled cause-specific lameness incidence rate per 100 cow-years was 66.1 (95% CI 24.1–128.8) for white line disease, 53.2 (95% CI 20.5–101.2) for sole ulcer, 53.6 (95% CI 19.2–105.34) for digital dermatitis, with 51.9 (95% CI 9.3–129.2) attributable to other lameness-related lesions. Heterogeneity levels remained high. Sixty-nine papers contributed to a chronological overview of lameness data source. Although the AHDB Dairy mobility scoring system (MSS) was launched in the UK in 2008 and adopted shortly after by the British Dairy sector as the standard tool for assessing lameness, other methods are used depending on the investigator. Automated lameness detection systems may offer a solution for the subjective nature of MSSs, yet it was utilized in one study only. Despite the recognition of under-reporting of lameness from farm records 22 (31.9%) studies used this data source. The diversity of lameness data collection methods and sources was a key finding. It limits the understanding of lameness burden and the refinement of policy making for lameness. Standardizing case definition and research methods would improve knowledge of and ability to manage lameness. Regardless of the measurement method lameness in British dairy cattle is high.