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Keys to   Managing Lame Cows

By: Dr. Megan Jamieson

This past month, Dr. Megan travelled to Knoxville, Tennessee to attend the AABP Recent Grad Conference and participate in a preconference seminar covering bovine lameness treatment and protocols. Here are a few of the important takeaways:



  1. Early detection of lameness is CRITICAL. Chronic cows can have irreversible changes to the internal foot. It is recommended to check cows frequently for any signs of lameness (which can be as subtle as a shortened stride length). ANY limp is abnormal and should be investigated.
  2. Leaving foot blocks on for longer than 4-6 weeks can cause an ulcer to develop underneath the block.



Common foot diseases we see in our practice area:

Sole Ulcers:

  • Treatment: pare out loose horn + block on healthy toe + NSAIDs
  • NO topical powders or sprays should be put on an exposed sole ulcer. It is irritating/caustic and can delay healing.

White Line Disease:

    • Treatment: remove loose horn (to close the sole defect ASAP) + block on healthy toe + NSAIDs. The ultimate goal is to prevent chronic cows from developing irreversible bony changes.

Septic Arthritis/Joint infection: 

  • Will usually cause ASYMMETRIC swelling (only in one toe) and significant lameness.
  • Usually starts as an ulcer, white line defect or direct trauma.
  • Systemic antibiotics are only useful in MILD cases. In severe cases where swelling is apparent, systemic antibiotics or regional limb perfusions are NOT helpful. Severe cases can have the affected claw amputated to get the animal to culling.


Foot rot/Strawberry/Digital Dermatitis/Hairy Heel Wart:

  • These are all names for the same disease process, just at different stages or areas affected.
  • It is one of the only things to cause SYMMETRICAL swelling in the foot. Tissue can also appear red and be extremely painful to touch.
  • Best treatment is early TOPICAL treatment. Cyclospray or 2g (1/2 tsp.) of tetracycline powder made into a paste are appropriate treatments. There are studies that now show foot wraps don’t significantly speed healing time. The topical treatments kill the pathogens in seconds. More severe cases can get Excenel (dairy) or Oxyvet (beef).
  • **These pathogens are very responsive to antibiotics. So, if there is no improvement in 24-48 hours after treatment – IT IS LIKELY NOT FOOTROT and the cow’s foot needs to be reexamined**
  • These pathogens will encyst/hide deep in the foot tissue and likely cause a reoccurrence in affected cows. This is why footbathsare important. It will prevent those deep hiding pathogens from causing disease again.



Welcome Dr. Madi McArthur!


We are thrilled to announce that our UGVS team is growing, we are excited to welcome Dr. Madi McArthur to our team this upcoming May! Some of you may recognize Madi as she has done externships with us. Madi discovered a passion for animals and agriculture at a young age spending time on her grandfather’s farm. Through her time at the Ontario Veterinary College, she discovered a passion for bovine reproduction and obstetrics. She’s most looking forward to working alongside the Upper Grand Vets team to provide exemplary care to livestock species and to meeting all the wonderful clients that Upper Grand serves! In her free time, you’ll find her trying out a new recipe, hiking with her dog, Boris, or spending time with her family.



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Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

As the holidays approach we want to extend a heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity to serve the agricultural community every day.

Thank you for your kindness, for your support, and for continually inspiring us to push the limits of our knowledge and specialty.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication as you continue to provide safe and sustainable food for the world.

Wishing you and your loved ones health, happiness, and prosperity during this holiday season and in the new year!

– The Team at Upper Grand Vets

The Importance of Nursing Care for Down Cows

By: Dr. Alina Cota-Merlo

Everybody has been there: you walk into the barn and there she is, on the ground and unwilling to rise. Treating a down cow promptly is crucial to increase her chances of recovery, the most important aspect of treatment being the amount and quality of nursing care that she receives. The goal of nursing care for down cows is to prevent secondary muscle damage caused by compartment syndrome, the build-up of pressure in/on her down leg causing massive amounts of muscle and nerve damage. Especially when recovery will be prolonged (i.e. 6 hours or more), preventing damage to her down leg can drastically alter her prognosis.

Nursing care for down cows can be broken up into 5 key points:

  • Bedding: Down cows should be on deep bedding made of sand (best option), straw, or a bedded pack. Appropriate bedding depths are:

o Sand: 20-30 cm deep

o Straw/bedded pack: 40-50 cm deep

  • Relocation: Down cows should be relocated to an area appropriate for recovery (ideally, alone in a large pen with deep bedding).

o Appropriate methods for moving down cows: tractor buckets, slings, sleds, platforms on forklifts

o Inappropriate methods for moving down cows: exposed forklifts, hip lifters, dragging by neck or limbs

  • Lifting/repositioning: Down cows should be lifted at least three times a day for no more than 10-15 minutes at a time before being repositioned on their opposite side. Hip lifters or body slings can be used to do this.
  • Nutrition: Continue feeding the cow her regular feed, whether it be good-quality, dry hay or TMR. Ensure food and water is always accessible to her and there is no competition from other animals who may be in the same pen.
  • Milking: Ensure ongoing udder health by milking down cows twice a day when they are lifted, particularly around peak lactation.No matter the reason for your cow being down, all animals should immediately receive one dose of anti-inflammatory medication to decrease muscle damage of the down leg. If pregnant, Metacam or Anafen would be the product of chose. If she is not pregnant, Dexamethasone, Metacam, or Anafen could be used. It is important to note that euthanasia is always an option for down cows, particularly if a cow is down due to a fracture, dislocation, muscle tear, or if not enough labour force is available to provide adequate nursing care.When making euthanasia decisions outside of the above factors, elements to consider when deciding whether to continue treatment or euthanize are:
    • Improvement: is she improving with treatment? Deteriorating? Unchanging?
    • Mentation: is she bright? Eating/ruminating? Or is she dull and not eating?
    • Bloodwork: The levels of CK and AST in her blood are an excellent indication of the level of muscle damage she has sustained from being down and are a good prognostic indicator for her chances of recovery.


    Ask your herd veterinarian about our down cow protocols at UGVS and how they can be adapted for your herd.

    Annual Producer Awards

    After not being able to host our Annual Producer Meeting after a couple of years we were very pleased and excited to be able to bring everyone back together in November to discuss different topics, meet with industry partners, and share farm stories and experiences amongst each other. As done in previous years we awarded different farms with producer awards based on reproductive performance and milk quality parameters by using DHI data. We are pleased to share the winners listed below and want to offer them a congratulations for their hard work.

    Most Improved Reproduction Records – Steveleigh Holsteins; Steve & Adam Witmer

    Most Improved Milk Quality – Perrinridge Farms Ltd.; Vicky Stere

    Top Performance Combined Production, Reproduction & Milk Quality –

    Andita Holsteins; Andy & Rita Maciukiewicz

    Award of Distinction for Dairy – A & E Dairy Ltd.; Eric & Reba Vander Zaag

    Most Improved Calf Program – Bridgeview Farms; Pete & Mark Coleman

Contact Us


7707 Mill Rd., Guelph ON N1H 6J1
7643 ON-6, Arthur, ON N0G 1A0
1139 Settlers Rd., Sheffield ON L0R 1Z0

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