Project FEET: Recognising and treating pain in lame dairy cows


Project FEET: Recognising and treating pain in lame dairy cows is a whole team approach

The VetPartners Production Animal Clinical Board Mobility Special Interest Group (SIG) are excited to announce that the data analysis for Project FEET is now underway! Project FEET stands for Furthering the Evidence-base on cow mobility by Engaging the whole Team.

This project aims to better understand attitudes towards recognising and treating pain among the whole mobility healthcare team and was founded and developed by the Mobility SIG at VetPartners led by Emily Craven, MRCVS:

‘Lameness in dairy cows remains the elephant in the room where we know the national prevalence is high, but we are often guilty of thinking of it as someone else’s problem.  It is a welfare issue for the cows, a perception issue for dairy farming and is something that we need to collectively take ownership of.  Improving lameness takes two angles treating and managing lame cows and preventing new cases.  This project focuses on treatment and management of lame cows.’ 

The project received a good response rate with data received from 81 farmers, 81 vets, 34 trimmers and 15 techs. Although the main analysis is still underway, initial findings are very interesting.

Data indicate that different members of the team have different perceptions of lameness. For example, participants were asked to pain score a mobility score two cow using a 1-10 scale (where 10 was extremely painful). As indicated by the graph below, there were varied opinions as to how painful the cow was:

This study also looked at whether different members of the team were likely to treat pain differently. The below graph shows how often vets and farmers reported using NSAIDs for white line abscess cases and again, a number of differences were noted:

Further results from this study will be released soon. Jenny Stavisky, VetPartners Clinical Research Manager explains:

‘The results of this study will help us understand more about how members of the team view and treat pain and lameness, and we hope will open up new conversations which help us to improve the health and productivity of our cows. Once the analysis is complete, we will share the findings through a mixture of peer-reviewed papers, videos and CPD sessions, with a sneak preview at December’s VP Congress’.

At VetPartners we believe in delivering outstanding care to our patients and clients, Ian Cure, Farm Director highlights the importance of this condition:

‘Lameness is something that directly affects on-farm efficiency for all of our dairy clients. By working together to improve mobility and foot health we also reduce the risk of other diseases such as mastitis and transition diseases as well as improve welfare.’

We thank everyone for their ongoing interest and support, particularly those who have taken time to participate in this study. The more our teams engage with projects such as this and discuss the findings, the more impactful our research becomes and the greater it’s potential to benefit our teams, clients and the animals we treat.

Members of the Mobility SIG who are involved in this project include:

Emily Craven MRCVS Oakwood  (lead); Amy Jones  MRCVS, Cornwall Dairy Vets; Andrew Henderson MRCVS, LLM Farm Vets Bakewell; Eliot Hedley MRCVS, Farm Vets South West;  James Dixon MRCVS, Westpoint Ashbourne; Kathryn Rowland B.Sc.Hons (Agric) Kingshay: Natalie Parker, Hannah Fitzsimmonds MRCVS,  Will Gratwick, Tom Wright MRCVS, LLM Vets Whitchurch; Phil Dawber, MRCVS, Cornwall Dairy Vets; Tamsin Harris-Bryant MRCVS, Penbode;

If you have any queries about this study please contact