Best Practice: Develop a Lameness Detection Protocol

1. Designate a specific person(s) to be responsible for finding lame cows.

When everyone is responsible for detecting lame cows, the task can be pushed aside. People tend to assume that someone else will take care of the assignment, leaving the lame cows unidentified.

2. Develop a routine schedule for finding lame cows.

Regular monitoring of the herd for lameness allows for early detection and early intervention. Weekly or biweekly identification and treatment prevents the number of lameness cases in the herd from building up. The number of cases in the herd can be tracked from week to week to identify trends or trigger further investigation if needed.


Lameness Detection Protocol Template

Lameness Detection Protocol template.docx

3. Develop a communication mechanism for reporting lame cows to designated person and hoof trimmer.

While there should be a specified person(s) on the dairy responsible for identifying lame cows, it is important to have a reliable method for other staff to report lame cows they notice during the work day. There are countless ways for this reporting procedure to be implemented, but all should include identification of the cow, date, and name of person reporting. The key is to make the reporting reliable and convenient for non-designated lameness staff


  •      ♦ a designated white board at front of parlor
  •      ♦ clipboard by holding area entry
  •      ♦ mailbox with paper slips
Lame Cow Reporting Sheet

lame cow reporting sheet.docx

Additional Resources for Lameness Detection

Locomotion scoring of the entire herd is recommended to identify lame cows. A variety of scoring systems are available to guide you. At the farm level, the most important goal is to identify which cows need further attention. For this purpose, a simplified lame yes/no system is typically adequate.


Below are a variety of resources that can be used to train staff in lame cow identification.



5-Point Scoring System:

Zinpro Locomotion Scoring

UBC Gait Scoring Guide

UBC Gait Scoring.pdf

Zinpro Locomotion Scoring Guide


Comparison of scoring systems (UW)